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COLLECTED ESSAYS 

BY T. H. HUXLEY 



VOLUME II 



THOMAS H. HUXLEY'S WORKS. 
Collected Essays. 

Vol. i. Method and Results. 
" a. IJarwiniana. 
" 3. Science and Education. 
" 4. Science and Hebrew Tradition. 
" 5. Science and Christian Tradition. 
" 6. Hume. 

" 7. Man's Place in Nature. 
" 8. Discourses, Biological and Geological. 
" o. Evolution and Ethics, and Other 
Essays. 

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The Crayfish: 

An Introduction to the Study of Zoology. 
With 82 Illustrations, izmo. Cloth, $1.75. 

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Animals. Illustrated. I2rao. Cloth, $2.50. 

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New York : D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Arenue. 



DARWINIANA 



ESSAYS 



BY 

THOMAS H. HUXLEY 



NEW YORK 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 
1894 



Authorized Edition. 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
SANTA BARBARA COLLEGE LIBRARY 



c.v 



PEEFACE 

I HAVE entitled this volume " Darwiniana " 
because the pieces republished in it either treat of 
the ancient doctrine of Evolution, rehabilitated and 
placed upon a sound scientific foundation, since 
and in consequence of, the publication of the 
" Origin of Species. ; " or they attempt to meet the 
more weighty of the unsparing criticisms with 
which that great work was visited for several years 
after its appearance ; or they record the impression 
left by the personality of Mr. Darwin on one who 
had the privilege and the happiness of enjoying his 
friendship for some thirty years ; or they endeavour 
to sum up his work and indicate its enduring 
influence on the course of scientific thought. 

Those who take the trouble to read the first 
two essays, published in 1859 and 1860, will, I 
think, do me the justice to admit that my zeal to 
secure fair play for Mr. Darwin, did not drive me 
into the position of a mere advocate ; and that, 
while doing justice to the greatness of the argu- 



Vi PREFACE 

ment I did not fail to indicate its weak points. I 
have never seen any reason for departing from the 
position which I took up in these two essays ; and 
the assertion which I sometimes meet with nowa- 
days, that I have " recanted " or changed my 
opinions about Mr. Darwin's views, is quite unin- 
telligible to me. 

As I have said in the seventh essay, the fact of 
evolution is to my mind sufficiently evidenced by 
palaeontology ; and I remain of the opinion ex- 
pressed in the second, that until selective breeding 
is definitely proved to give rise to varieties infertile 
with one another, the logical foundation of the 
theory of natural selection is incomplete. We still 
remain very much in the dark about the causes of 
variation ; the apparent inheritance of acquired 
characters in some cases; and the struggle for 
existence within the organism, which probably 
lies at the bottom of both of these phenomena. 

Some apology is due to the reader for the repro- 
duction of the " Lectures to Working Men " in 
their original state. They were taken down in 
shorthand by Mr. J. Aldous Mays, who requested 
me to allow him to print them. I was very much 
pressed with work at the time ; and, as I could not 
revise the reports, which I imagined, moreover, 
would be of little or no interest to any but my 
auditors, I stipulated that a notice should be pre- 
fixed to that effect. This was done ; but it did not 



PREFACE. vii 

prevent a considerable diffusion of the little book 
in this country and in the United States, nor its 
translation into more than one foreign language. 
Moreover Mr. Darwin often urged me to revise and 
expand the lectures into a systematic popular 
exposition of the topics of which they treat. I 
have more than once set about the task : but the 
proverb about spoiling a horn and not making a 
spoon, is particularly applicable to attempts to 
remodel a piece of work which may have served its 
immediate purpose well enough. 

So I have reprinted the lectures as they stand, 
with all their imperfections on their heads. It 
would seem that many people must have found 
them useful thirty years ago ; and, though the 
sixties appear now to be reckoned by many of the 
rising generation as a part of the dark ages, I am 
not without some grounds for suspecting that 
there yet remains a fair sprinkling even of 
"philosophic thinkers" to whom it may be a 
profitable, perhaps even a novel, task to descend 
from the heights of speculation and go over the 
A B C of the great biological problem as it was 
set before a body of shrewd artisans at that remote 
epoch. 



T.H.H. 



HODESLEA, EASTBOURNE, 
April 7th, 1893. 



CONTENTS 



i 

PAOK 
THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS [1859] 1 



II 

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES [1860] . 



Ill 

^CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " [1864] ... 80 

IV 

THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS [1869] 107 

V 

MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS [1871] 120 

VI 
/ 

EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY [1878] 187 



r CONTENTS 

VII 

PA OH 

THE COMING OF AGE OF "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 

[1880] .227 



VIII 

CHARLES DARWIN [1882] 244 

IX 

THE DARWIN MEMORIAL [1886] 248 

X 

OBITUARY [1888] 253 



XI 

SIX LECTURES TO WORKING MEN " ON OUR KNOWLEDGE 
OF THE CAUSES OF THE PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC 
NATURE "[1863] 80S 



I 

THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 

[1859] 

THE hypothesis of which the present work of 
Mr. Darwin is but the preliminary outline, may 
be stated in his own language as follows : 
" Species originated by means of natural selection, 
or through the preservation of the favoured races 
in the struggle for life." To render this thesis 
intelligible, it is necessary to interpret its terms. 
In the first place, what is a species ? The question 
is a simple one, but the right answer to it is hard 
to find, even if we appeal to those who should 
know most about it. It is all those animals or 
plants which have descended from a single pair of 
parents; it is the smallest distinctly definable 
group of living organisms ; it is an eternal and 
immutable entity ; it is a mere abstraction of the 
human intellect having no existence in nature. 
Such are a few of the significations attached to 



THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS j 

this simple word which may be culled from 
authoritative sources ; and if, leaving terms and 
theoretical subtleties aside, we turn to facts and 
endeavour to gather a meaning for ourselves, by 
studying the things to which, in practice, the 
name of species is applied, it profits us little. For 
practice varies as much as theory. Let two 
botanists or two zoologists examine and describe 
the productions of a country, and one will pretty 
certainly disagree with the other as to the number, 
limits, and definitions of the species into which he 
groups the very same things. In these islands, we 
are in the habit of regarding mankind as of one 
species, but a fortnight's steam will land us in a 
country where divines and savants, for once in 
agreement, vie with one another in loudness of 
assertion, if not in cogency of proof, that men are 
of different species ; and, more particularly, that 
the species negro is so distinct from our own that 
the Ten Commandments have actually no reference 
to him. Even in the calm region of entomology, 
where, if anywhere in this sinful world, passion 
and prejudice should fail to stir the mind, one 
learned coleopterist will fill ten attractive volumes 
with descriptions of species of beetles, nine-tenths 
of which are immediately declared by his brother 
beetle-mongers to be no species at all. 

The truth is that the number of distinguishable 
living creatures almost surpasses imagination. At 
least 100,000 such kinds of insects alone have been 



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I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 

described and may be identified in collections, and 
the number of separable kinds of living things is 
under-estimated at half a million. Seeing that 
most of these obvious kinds have their accidental 
varieties, and that they often shade into others 
by imperceptible degrees, it may well be 
imagined that the task of distinguishing be- 
tween what is permanent and what fleeting, 
what is a species and what a mere variety, 
is sufficiently formidable. 

But is it not possible to apply a test whereby a 
true species may be known from a mere variety ? 
Is there no criterion of species ? Great authori- 
ties affirm that there is that the unions of 
members of the same species are always fertile, 
while those of distinct species are either sterile, 
or their offspring, called hybrids, are so. It is 
affirmed not only that this is an experimental 
fact, but that it is a provision for the preservation 
of the purity of species. Such a criterion as this 
would be invaluable ; but, unfortunately, not only 
is it not obvious how to apply it in the great 
majority of cases in which its aid is needed, but 
its general validity is stoutly denied. The Hon. 
and Rev. Mr. Herbert, a most trustworthy authority, 
not only asserts as the result of his own observa- 
tions and experiments that many hybrids are 
quite as fertile as the parent species, but he goes 
so far as to assert that the particular plant Crinum 
capense is much more fertile when crossed by a 



4 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

distinct species than when fertilised by its proper 
pollen ! On the other hand, the famous Gaertner, 
though he took the greatest pains to cross the 
Primrose and the Cowslip, succeeded only once or 
twice in several years ; and yet it is a well- 
established fact that the Primrose and the Cow- 
slip are only varieties of the same kind of plant. 
Again, such cases as the following are well estab- 
lished. The female of species A, if crossed with 
the male of species B, is fertile ; but, if the female 
of B is crossed with the male of A, she remains 
barren. Facts of this kind destroy the value of 
the supposed criterion. 

If, weary of the endless difficulties involved in 
the determination of species, the investigator, 
contenting himself with the rough practical 
distinction of separable kinds, endeavours to 
study them as they occur in nature to ascertain 
their relations to the conditions which surround 
them, their mutual harmonies and discordancies of 
structure, the bond of union of their present and 
their past history, he finds himself, according to 
the received notions, in a mighty maze, and with, 
at most, the dimmest adumbration of a plan. 
If he starts with any one clear conviction, it is 
that every part of a living creature is cunningly 
adapted to some special use in its life. Has not 
his Paley told him that that seemingly useless 
organ, the spleen, is beautifully adjusted as so 
much packing between the other organs? And 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 5 

yet, at the outset of his studies, he finds that no 
adaptive reason whatsoever can be given for one- 
half of the peculiarities of vegetable structure. 
He also discovers rudimentary teeth, which are 
never used, in the gums of the young calf and in 
those of the foetal whale ; insects which never 
bite have rudimental jaws, and others which 
never fly have rudimental wings ; naturally blind 
creatures have rudimental eyes ; and the halt 
have rudimentary limbs. So, again, no animal or 
plant puts on its perfect form at once, but all have 
to start from the same point, however various the 
course which each has to pursue. Not only men 
and horses, and cats and dogs, lobsters and 
beetles, periwinkles and mussels, but even the 
very sponges and animalcules commence their 
existence under forms which are essentially 
undistinguishable ; and this is true of all the 
infinite variety of plants. Nay, more, all living 
beings march, side by side, along the high road of 
development, and separate the later the more like 
they are ; like people leaving church, who all go 
down the aisle, but having reached the door, some 
turn into the parsonage, others go down the 
village, and others part only in the next parish. 
A man in his development runs for a little while 
parallel with, though never passing through, the 
form of the meanest worm, then travels for a 
space beside the fish, then journeys along with 
the bird and the reptile for his fellow travellers ; 



6 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

and only at last, after a brief companionship with 
the highest of the four-footed and four-handed 
world, rises into the dignity of pure manhood. No 
competent thinker of the present day dreams of 
explaining these indubitable facts by the notion 
of the existence of unknown and undiscoverable 
adaptations to purpose. And we would remind 
those who, ignorant of the facts, must be moved 
by authority, that no one has asserted the incom- 
petence of the doctrine of final causes, in its 
application to physiology and anatomy, more 
strongly than our own eminent anatomist, 
Professor Owen, who, speaking of such cases, says 
("On the Nature of Limbs," pp. 39, 40) " I 
think it will be obvious that the principle of final 
adaptations fails to satisfy all the conditions of 
the problem." 

But, if the doctrine of final causes will not 
help us to comprehend the anomalies of living 
structure, the principle of adaptation must surely 
lead us to understand why certain living beings are 
found in certain regions of the world and not in 
others. The Palm, as we know, will not grow in 
our climate, nor the Oak in Greenland. The 
white bear cannot live where the tiger thrives, 
nor vice versa, and the more the natural habits of 
animal and vegetable species are examined, the 
more do they seem, on the whole, limited to 
particular provinces. But when we look into the 
facts established by the study of the geographical 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 7 

distribution of animals and plants it seems 
utterly hopeless to attempt to understand the 
strange and apparently capricious relations which 
they exhibit. One would be inclined to suppose 
a priori that every country must be naturally 
peopled by those animals that are fittest to live 
and thrive in it. And yet how, on this hypothesis, 
are we to account for the absence of cattle in the 
Pampas of South America, when those parts of 
the New World were discovered ? It is not that 
they were unfit for cattle, for millions of cattle 
now run wild there ; and the like holds good of 
Australia and New Zealand. It is a curious 
circumstance, in fact, that the animals and plants 
of the Northern Hemisphere are not only as well 
adapted to live in the Southern Hemisphere as 
its own autochthones, but are, in many cases, 
absolutely better adapted, and so overrun and 
extirpate the aborigines. Clearly, therefore, the 
species which naturally inhabit a country are not 
necessarily the best adapted to its climate and 
other conditions. The inhabitants of islands are 
often distinct from any other known species of 
animal or plants (witness our recent examples 
from the work of Sir Emerson Tennent, on 
Ceylon), and yet they have almost always a sort 
of general family resemblance to the animals and 
plants of the nearest mainland. On the other 
hand, there is hardly a species of fish, shell, or 
crab common to the opposite sides of the narrow 



8 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS I 

isthmus of Panama. 1 Wherever we look, then, 
living nature offers us riddles of difficult solution, 
if we suppose that what we see is all that can 
be known of it. 

But our knowledge of life is not confined to the 
existing world. Whatever their minor differences, 
geologists are agreed as to the vast thickness of the 
accumulated strata which compose the visible part 
of our earth, and the inconceivable immensity of 
the time the lapse of which they are the imperfect 
but the only accessible witnesses. Now, through- 
out the greater part of this long series of stratified 
rocks are scattered, sometimes very abundantly, 
multitudes of organic remains, the fossilised 
exuvias of animals and plants which lived and 
died while the mud of which the rocks are formed 
was yet soft ooze, and could receive and bury 
them. It would be a great error to suppose that 
these organic remains were fragmentary relics. 
Our museums exhibit fossil shells of immeasurable 
antiquity, as perfect as the day they were formed ; 
whole skeletons without a limb disturbed ; nay. 
the changed flesh, the developing embryos, and 
even the very footsteps of primaeval organisms. 
Thus the naturalist finds in the bowels of the earth 
species as well defined as, and in some groups 
of animals "more numerous than, those which 
breathe the upper air. But, singularly enough, 
the majority of these entombed species are wholly 
1 [See page 60 Note.} 



T THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 9 

distinct from those that now live. Nor is this un- 
likeness without its rule and order. As a broad 
fact, the further we go back in time the less the 
buried species are like existing forms ; and, the fur- 
ther apart the sets of extinct creatures are, the less 
they are like one another. In other words, there 
has been a regular succession of living beings, each 
younger set, being in a very broad and general 
sense, somewhat more like those which now live. 

It was once supposed that this succession had 
been the result of vast successive catastrophes, 
destructions, and re-creations en masse; but 
catastrophes are now almost eliminated from 
geological, or at least palaeontological speculation ; 
and it is admitted, on all hands, that the seeming 
breaks in the chain of being are not absolute, but 
only relative to our imperfect knowledge; that 
species have replaced species, not in assemblages, 
but one by one ; and that, if it were possible to 
have all the phenomena of the past presented to 
us, the convenient epochs and formations of the 
geologist, though having a certain distinctness, 
would fade into one another with limits as 
undefinable as those of the distinct and yet 
separable colours of the solar spectrum. 

Such is a brief summary of the main truths 
which have been established concerning species. 
Are these truths ultimate and irresolvable facts, 
or are their complexities and perplexities the 
mere expressions of a higher law ? 



10 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

A large number of persons practically assume 
the former position to be correct. They believe 
that the writer of the Pentateuch was empowered 
and commissioned to teach us scientific as well as 
other truth, that the account we find there of the 
creation of living things is simply and literally 
correct, and that anything which seems to con- 
tradict it is, by the nature of the case, false. All 
the phenomena which have been detailed are, on 
this view, the immediate product of a creative 
fiat and, consequently, are out of the domain of 
science altogether. 

Whether this view prove ultimately to be true 
or false, it is, at any rate, not at present sup- 
ported by what is commonly regarded as logical 
proof, even if it be capable of discussion by 
reason ; and hence we consider ourselves at liberty 
to pass it by, and to turn to those views which 
profess to rest on a scientific basis only, and there- 
fore admit of being argued to their consequences. 
And we do this with the less hesitation as it so 
happens that those persons who are practically 
.conversant with the facts of the case (plainly a 
considerable advantage) have always thought fit 
to range themselves under the latter category. 

The majority of these competent persons have 
up to the present time maintained two positions 
the first, that every species is, within certain de- 
fined limits, fixed and incapable of modification ; 
the second, that every species was originally pro- 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 11 

duced by a distinct creative act. The second 
position is obviously incapable of proof or disproof, 
the direct operations of the Creator not being 
subjects of science ; and it must therefore be 
regarded as a corollary from the first, the truth 
or falsehood of which is a matter of evidence. 
Most persons imagine that the arguments in 
favour of it are overwhelming ; but to some few 
minds, and these, it must be confessed, intellects 
of no small power and grasp of knowledge, they 
have not brought conviction. Among these 
minds, that of the famous naturalist Lamarck, 
who possessed a greater acquaintance with the 
lower forms of life than any man of his day, 
Cuvier not excepted, and was a good botanist to 
boot, occupies a prominent place. 

Two facts appear to have strongly affected the 
course of thought of this remarkable man the 
one, that finer or stronger links of affinity connect 
all living beings with one another, and that thus 
the highest creature grades by multitudinous 
steps into the lowest ; the other, that an organ 
may be developed in particular directions by 
exerting itself in particular ways, and that modi- 
fications once induced may be transmitted and 
become hereditary. Putting these facts together, 
Lamarck endeavoured to account for the first by 
the operation of the second. Place an animal in 
new circumstances, says he, and its needs will be 
altered ; the new needs will create new desires, and 



12 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

the attempt to gratify such desires will result in an 
appropriate modification of the organs exerted. 
Make a man a blacksmith, and his brachial muscles 
will develop in accordance with the demands made 
upon them, and in like manner, says Lamarck, 
"the efforts of some short-necked bird to catch 
fish without wetting himself have, with time and 
perseverance, given rise to all our herons and 
long-necked waders." 

The Lamarckian hypothesis has long since been 
justly condemned, and it is the established prac- 
tice for every tyro to raise his heel against the 
carcase of the dead lion. But it is rarely either 
wise or instructive to treat even the errors of a 
really great man with mere ridicule, and in the 
present case the logical form of the doctrine stands 
on a very different footing from its substance. 

If species have really arisen by the operation 
of natural conditions, we ought to be able to find 
those conditions now at work ; we ought to be 
able to discover in nature some power adequate 
to modify any given kind of animal or plant in 
such a manner as to give rise to another kind, 
which would be admitted by naturalists as a 
distinct species. Lamarck imagined that he had 
discovered this vera causa in the admitted facts 
that some organs may be modified by exercise ; 
and that modifications, once produced, are capable 
of hereditary transmission. It does not seem to 
have occurred to him to inquire whether there is 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 13 

any reason to believe that there are any limits to 
the amount of modification producible, or to ask 
how long an animal is likely to endeavour to 
gratify an impossible desire. The bird, in our 
example, would surely have renounced fish dinners 
long before it had produced the least effect on leg 
or neck. 

Since Lamarck's time, almost all competent 
naturalists have left speculations on the origin of 
species to such dreamers as the author of the 
" Vestiges," by whose well-intentioned efforts the 
Lamarckian theory received its final condemnation 
in the minds of all sound thinkers. Notwith- 
standing this silence, however, the transmutation 
theory, as it has been called, has been a " skeleton 
in the closet" to many an honest zoologist and 
botanist who had a soul above the mere naming of 
dried plants and skins. Surely, has such an one 
thought, nature is a mighty and consistent whole, 
and the providential order established in the 
world of life must, if we could only see it rightly, 
be consistent with that dominant over the multi- 
form shapes of brute matter. But what is the 
history of astronomy, of all the branches of physics, 
of chemistry, of medicine, but a narration of the 
steps by which the human mind has been com- 
pelled, often sorely against its will, to recognise 
the operation of secondary causes in events where 
ignorance beheld an immediate intervention of a 
higher power ? And when we know that living 



14- THE DAEWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

things are formed of the same elements as the 
inorganic world, that they act and react upon it, 
bound by a thousand ties of natural piety, is it 
probable, nay is it possible, that they, and they 
alone, should have no order in their seeming 
disorder, no unity in their seeming multiplicity, 
should suffer no explanation by the discovery 
of some central and sublime law of mutual 
connection ? 

Questions of this kind have assuredly often arisen, 
but it might have been long before they received 
such expression as would have commanded the 
respect and attention of the scientific world, had 
it not been for the publication of the work which 
prompted this article. Its author, Mr. Darwin, 
inheritor of a once celebrated name, won his spurs 
in science when most of those now distinguished 
were young men, and has for the last twenty 
years held a place in the front ranks of British 
philosophers. After a circumnavigatory voyage, 
undertaken solely for the love of his science, Mr. 
Darwin published a series of researches which at 
once arrested the attention of naturalists and 
geologists ; his generalisations have since received 
ample confirmation and now command universal 
assent, nor is it questionable that they have had 
the most important influence on the progress of 
science. More recently Mr. Darwin, with a 
versatility which is among the rarest of gifts, 
turned his attention to a most difficult question of 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 15 

zoology and minute anatomy; and no living 
naturalist and anatomist has published a better 
monograph than that which resulted from his 
labours. Such a man, at all events, has not 
entered the sanctuary with unwashed hands, and 
when he lays before us the results of twenty 
years' investigation and reflection we must listen 
even though we be disposed to strike. But, in 
reading his work, it must be confessed that the 
attention which might at first be dutifully, soon 
becomes willingly, given, so clear is the author's 
thought, so outspoken his conviction, so honest 
and fair the candid expression of his doubts. 
Those who would judge the book must read it : 
we shall endeavour only to make its line of argu- 
ment and its philosophical position intelligible to 
the general reader in our own way. 

The Baker Street Bazaar has just been exhibit- 
ing its familiar annual spectacle. Straight-backed, 
small-headed, big-barrelled oxen, as dissimilar 
from any wild species as can well be imagined, 
contended for attention and praise with sheep of 
half-a-dozen different breeds and styes of bloated 
preposterous pigs, no more like a wild boar or sow 
than a city alderman is like an ourang-outang. 
The cattle show has been, and perhaps may again 
be, succeeded by a poultry show, of whose crowing 
and clucking prodigies it can only be certainly 
predicated that they will be very unlike the 
aboriginal Phasianus gallus. If the seeker after 



16 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

animal anomalies is not satisfied, a turn or two in 
Seven Dials will convince him that the breeds of 
pigeons are quite as extraordinary and unlike one 
another and their parent stock, while the Horti- 
cultural Society will provide him with any number 
of corresponding vegetable aberrations from 
nature's types. He will learn with no little 
surprise, too, in the course of his travels, that the 
proprietors and producers of these animal and 
vegetable anomalies regard them as distinct 
species, with a firm belief, the strength of which 
is exactly proportioned to their ignorance of 
scientific biology, and which is the more remark- 
able as they are all proud of their skill in originat- 
ing such " species." 

On careful inquiry it is found that all these, and 
the many other artificial breeds or races of animals 
and plants, have been produced by one method. 
The breeder and a skilful one must be a person 
of much sagacity and natural or acquired perceptive 
faculty notes some slight difference, arising he 
knows not how, in some individuals of his stock. 
If he wish to perpetuate the difference, to form a 
breed with the peculiarity in question strongly 
marked, he selects such male and female indi- 
viduals as exhibit the desired character, and breeds 
from them. Their offspring are then carefully 
examined, and those which exhibit the peculiarity 
the most distinctly are selected for breeding ; and 
this operation is repeated until the desired amount 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 17 

of divergence from the primitive stock is reached. 
It is then found that by continuing the process of 
selection always breeding, that is, from well- 
marked forms, and allowing no impure crosses to 
interfere a race may be formed, the tendency of 
which to reproduce itself is exceedingly strong; 
nor is the limit to the amount of divergence which 
may be thus produced known ; but one thing is 
certain, that, if certain breeds of dogs, or of pigeons, 
or of horses, were known only in a fossil state, no 
naturalist would hesitate in regarding them as 
distinct species. 

But in all these cases we have human interfer- 
ence. Without the breeder there would be no 
selection, and without the selection no race. 
Before admitting the possibility of natural species 
having originated in any similar way, it must be 
proved that there is in Nature some power which 
takes the place of man, and performs a selection 
sud sponte. It is the claim of Mr. Darwin that he 
professes to have discovered the existence and the 
modiis operandi of this " natural selection," as he 
terms it ; and, if he be right, the process is per- 
fectly simple and comprehensible, and irresistibly 
deducible from very familiar but well nigh for- 
gotten facts. 

Who, for instance, has duly reflected upon all 
the consequences of the marvellous struggle for 
existence which is daily and hourly going on 
among living beings ? Not only does every animal 



18 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

live at the expense of some other animal or plant, 
but the very plants are at war. The ground is 
full of seeds that cannot rise into seedlings ; the 
seedlings rob one another of air, light and water, 
the strongest robber winning the day, and ex- 
tinguishing his competitors. Year after year, the 
wild animals with which man never interferes are, 
on the average, neither more nor less numerous 
than they were ; and yet we know that the annual 
produce of every pair is from one to perhaps a 
million young ; so that it is mathematically certain 
that, on the average, as many are killed by natural 
causes as are born every year, and those only escape 
which happen to be a little better fitted to resist 
destruction than those which die. The individuals 
of a species are like the crew of a foundered ship, 
and none but good swimmers have a chance of 
reaching the land. 

Such being unquestionably the necessary con- 
ditions under which living creatures exist, Mr. 
Darwin discovers in them the instrument of natural 
selection. Suppose that in the midst of this in- 
cessant competition some individuals of a species 
(A) present accidental variations which happen to 
fit them a little better than their fellows for the 
struggle in which they are engaged, then the 
chances are in favour, not only of these individuals 
being better nourished than the others, but of 
their predominating over their fellows in other 
ways, and of having a better chance of leaving 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 19 

offspring, which will of course tend to reproduce 
the peculiarities of their parents. Their offspring 
will, by a parity of reasoning, tend to predominate 
over their contemporaries, and there being (sup- 
pose) no room for more than one species such as 
A, the weaker variety will eventually be destroyed 
by the new destructive influence which is thrown 
into the scale, and the stronger will take its place. 
Surrounding conditions remaining unchanged, the 
new variety (which we may call B) supposed, for 
argument's sake, to be the best adapted for these 
conditions which can be got out of the original 
stock will remain unchanged, all accidental devia- 
tions from the type becoming at once extinguished, 
as less fit for their post than B itself. The tend- 
ency of B to persist will grow with its persistence 
through successive generations, and it will acquire 
all the characters of a new species. 

But, on the other hand, if the conditions of life 
change in any degree, however slight, B may no 
longer be that form which is best adapted to with- 
stand their destructive, and profit by their sus- 
taining, influence ; in which case i it should give 
rise to a more competent variety (C), this will take 
its place and become a new species ; and thus, by 
natural selection, the species B and C will be suc- 
cessively derived from A. 

That this most ingenious hypothesis enables us 
to give a reason for many apparent anomalies in 
the distribution of living beings in time and space, 



20 THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS i 

and that it is not contradicted by the main phen- 
omena of life and organisation appear to us to be 
unquestionable ; and, so far, it must be admitted to 
have an immense advantage over any of its prede- 
cessors. But it is quite another matter to affirm 
absolutely either the truth or falsehood of Mr. 
Darwin's views at the present stage of the inquiry. 
Goethe has an excellent aphorism defining that 
state of mind which he calls " Thiitige Skepsis " 
active doubt. It is doubt which so loves truth 
that it neither dares rest in doubting, nor extin- 
guish itself by unjustified belief; and we commend 
this state of mind to students of species, with 
respect to Mr. Darwin's or any other hypothesis, 
as to their origin. The combined investigations 
of another twenty years may, perhaps, enable 
naturalists to say whether the modifying causes 
and the selective power, which Mr. Darwin has 
satisfactorily shown to exist in Nature, are com- 
petent to produce all the effects he ascribes to 
them ; or whether, on the other hand, he has been 
led to over-estimate the value of the principle of 
natural selection, as greatly as Lamarck over- 
estimated his vera causa of modification by exercise. 
But there is, at all events, one advantage pos- 
sessed by the more recent writer over his pre- 
decessor. Mr. Darwin abhors mere speculation as 
nature abhors a vacuum. He is as greedy of cases 
and precedents as any constitutional lawyer, and 
all the principles he lays down are capable of being 



I THE DARWINIAN HYPOTHESIS 21 

brought to the test of observation and experiment. 
The path he bids us follow professes to be, not a 
mere airy track, fabricated of ideal cobwebs, but a 
solid and broad bridge of facts. If it be so, it 
will carry us safely over many a chasm in our 
knowledge, and lead us to a region free from the 
snares of those fascinating but barren virgins, the 
Final Causes, against whom a high authority has so 
justly warned us. " My sons, dig in the vineyard," 
were the last words of the old man in the fable : 
and, though the sons found no treasure, they made 
their fortunes by the grapes. 



II 

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 
[1860] 

MR. DARWIN'S long-standing and well-earned 
scientific eminence probably renders him indiffer- 
ent to that social notoriety which passes by the 
name of success ; but if the calm spirit of the 
philosopher have not yet wholly superseded the 
ambition and the vanity of the carnal man within 
him, he must be well satisfied with the results of 
his venture in publishing the " Origin of Species." 
Overflowing the narrow bounds of purely scientific 
circles, the " species question " divides with Italy 
and the Volunteers the attention of general 
society. Everybody has read Mr. Darwin's book, 
or, at least, has given an opinion upon its merits 
or demerits ; pietists, whether lay or ecclesiastic, 
decry it with the mild railing which sounds so 
charitable ; bigots denounce it with ignorant 
invective ; old ladies of both sexes consider it a 



Ir THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 23 

decidedly dangerous book, and even savants, who 
have no better mud to throw, quote antiquated 
writers to show that its author is no better than 
an ape himself ; while every philosophical thinker 
hails it as a veritable Whit worth gun in the 
armoury of liberalism ; and all competent natural- 
ists and physiologists, whatever their opinions as 
to the ultimate fate of the doctrines put forth, 
acknowledge that the work in which thy are 
embodied is a solid contribution to knowledge 
and inaugurates a new epoch in natural history. 

Nor has the discussion of the subject been 
restrained within the limits of conversation. 
When the public is eager and interested, reviewers 
must minister to its wants ; and the genuine 
litterateur is too much in the habit of acquiring 
his knowledge from the book he judges as the 
Abyssinian is said to provide himself with steaks 
from the ox which carries him to be withheld 
from criticism of a profound scientific work by 
the mere want of the requisite preliminary scien- 
tific acquirement ; while, on the other hand, the 
men of science who wish well to the new views, 
no less than those who dispute their validity, have 
naturally sought opportunities of expressing their 
opinions. Hence it is not surprising that almost 
all the critical journals have noticed Mr. Darwin's 
work at greater or less length ; and so many dis- 
quisitions, of every degree of excellence, from the 
poor product of ignorance,, too often stimulated by 

31 



24 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

prejudice, to the fair and thoughtful essay of the 
candid student of Nature, have appeared, that it 
seems an almost hopeless task to attempt to say 
anything new upon the question. 

But it may be doubted if the knowledge and 
acumen of prejudged scientific opponents, and the 
subtlety of orthodox special pleaders, have yet 
exerted their full force in mystifying the real issues 
of the 'great controversy which has been set afoot, 
and whose end is hardly likely to be seen by this 
generation ; so that, at this eleventh hour, and even 
failing anything new, it may be useful to state 
afresh that which is true, and to put the funda- 
mental positions advocated by Mr. Darwin in such 
a form that they may be grasped by those whose 
special studies lie in other directions. And the 
adoption of this course may be the more advisable, 
because, notwithstanding its great deserts, and 
indeed partly on account of them, the " Origin of 
Species " is by no means an easy book to read if 
by reading is implied the full comprehension of an 
author's meaning. 

We do not speak jestingly in saying that it is 
Mr. Darwin's misfortune to know more about the 
question he has taken up than any man living. 
Personally and practically exercised in zoology, in 
minute anatomy, in geology ; a student of geogra- 
phical distribution, not on maps and in museums 
only, but by long voyages and laborious collection ; 
having largely advanced each of these branches of 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 25 

science, and having spent many years in gathering 
and sifting materials for his present work, the 
store of accurately registered facts upon which the 
author of the " Origin of Species " is able to draw 
at will is prodigious. 

But this very superabundance of matter must 
have been embarrassing to a writer who, for the 
present, can only put forward an abstract of his 
views ; and thence it arises, perhaps, that notwith- 
standing the clearness of the style, those who 
attempt fairly to digest the book find much of it 
a sort of intellectual pemmican a mass of facts 
crushed and pounded into shape, rather than held 
together by the ordinary medium of an obvious 
logical bond; due attention will, without doubt, 
discover this bond, but it is often hard to find. 

Again, from sheer want of room, much has to 
be taken for granted which might readily enough 
be proved ; and hence, while the adept, who can 
supply the missing links in the evidence from his 
own knowledge, discovers fresh proof of the singu- 
lar thoroughness with which all difficulties have 
been considered and all unjustifiable suppositions 
avoided, at every reperusal of Mr. Darwin's preg- 
nant paragraphs, the novice in biology is apt to 
complain of the frequency of what he fancies is 
gratuitous assumption. 

Thus while it may be doubted if, for some years, 
any one is likely to be competent to pronounce 
judgment on all the issues raised by Mr. Darwin, 



26 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

there is assuredly abundant room for him, who, 
assuming the humbler, though perhaps as useful, 
office of an interpreter between the " Origin of 
Species" and the public, contents himself with 
endeavouring to point out the nature of the prob- 
lems which it discusses ; to distinguish between 
the ascertained facts and the theoretical views 
which it contains ; and finally, to show the extent 
to which the explanation it offers satisfies the re- 
quirements of scientific logic. At any rate, it is 
this office which we purpose to undertake in the 
following pages. 

It may be safely assumed that our readers have 
a general conception of the nature of the objects 
to which the word " species " is applied ; but it 
has, perhaps, occurred to a few, even to those who 
are naturalists ex professo, to reflect, that, as com- 
monly employed, the term has a double sense and 
denotes two very different orders of relations. 
When we call a group of animals, or of plants.^ 
species, we may imply thereby, either that all 
these animals or plants have some common peculi- 
arity of form or structure ; or, we may mean that 
they possess some common functional character. 
That part of biological science which deals with 
form and structure is called Morphology that 
which concerns itself with function, Physiology 
so that we may conveniently speak of these two 
senses, or aspects, of " species " the one as mor- 
phological, the other as physiological. Regarded 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 27 

from the former point of view, a species is nothing 
more than a kind of animal or plant, which is 
distinctly definable from all others, by certain 
constant, and not merely sexual, morphological 
peculiarities. Thus horses form a species, because 
the group of animals to which that name is applied 
is distinguished from all others in the world by 
the following constantly associated characters. 
They have 1, A vertebral column ; 2, Mammae ; 
3, A placental embryo ; 4, Four legs ; 5, A single 
well-developed toe in each foot provided with a 
hoof; 6, A bushy tail; and 7, Callosities on the 
inner sides of both the fore and the hind legs. 
The asses, again, form a distinct species, because, 
with the same characters, as far as the fifth in the 
above list, all asses have tufted tails, and have 
callosities only on the inner side of the fore-legs. 
If animals were discovered having the general 
characters of the horse, but sometimes with cal- 
losities only on the fore-legs, and more or less 
tufted tails ; or animals having the general char- 
acters of the ass, but with more or less bushy 
tails, and sometimes with callosities on both pairs 
of legs, besides being intermediate in other re- 
spects the two species would have to be merged 
into one. They could no longer be regarded as 
morphologically distinct species, for they would 
not be distinctly definable one from the other. 

However bare and simple this definition of 
species may appear to be, we confidently appeal to 



28 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES H 

all practical naturalists, whether zoologists, botan- 
ists, or paleontologists, to say if, jn the vast 
majority of cases, they know, or mean to affirm, 
anything more of the group of animals or plants 
they so denominate than what has just been stated. 
Even the most decided advocates of the received 
doctrines respecting species admit this. 

" I apprehend," says Professor Owen, 1 "that few naturalists 
nowadays, in describing and proposing a name for what they 
call ' a new species,' use that term to signify what was meant by 
it twenty or thirty years ago ; that is, an originally distinct 
creation, maintaining its primitive distinction by obstructive 
generative peculiarities. The proposer of the new species now 
intends to state no more than he actually knows ; as, for 
example, that the differences on which he founds the specific 
character are constant in individuals of both sexes, so far as 
observation has reached ; and that they are not due to domes- 
tication or to artificially superinduced external circumstances, or 
to any outward influence within his cognizance ; that the species 
is wild, or is such as it appears by Nature. " 

If we consider, in fact, that by far the largest 
proportion of recorded existing species are known 
only by the study of their skins, or bones, or other 
lifeless exuviae ; that we are acquainted with none, 
or next to none, of their physiological peculiarities, 
beyond those which can be deduced from their 
structure, or are open to cursory observation ; and 
that we cannot hope to learn more of any of those 
extinct forms of life which now constitute no 
inconsiderable proportion of the known Flora and 

1 " On the Osteology of the Chimpanzees and Orangs "j 
Transactions of the Zoological Society, 1858. 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 29 

Fauna of the world : it is obvious that the defini- 
tions of these species can be only of a purely 
structural, or morphological, character. It is 
probable that naturalists would have avoided 
much confusion of ideas if they had more fre- 
quently borne the necessary limitations of our 
knowledge in mind. But while it may safely be 
admitted that we are acquainted with only the 
morphological characters of the vast majority of 
species the functional or physiological, peculiari- 
ties of a few have been carefully investigated, and 
the result of that study forms a large and most 
interesting portion of the physiology of reproduc- 
tion. 

The student of Nature wonders the more and is 
astonished the less, the more conversant he becomes 
with her operations ; but of all the perennial 
miracles she offers to his inspection, perhaps the 
most worthy of admiration is the development of 
a plant or of an animal from its embryo. Examine 
the recently laid egg of some common animal, 
such as a salamander or newt. It is a minute 
spheroid in which the best microscope will reveal 
nothing but a structureless sac, enclosing a glairy 
fluid, holding granules in suspension. 1 But strange 
possibilities lie dormant in that semi-fluid globule. 
Let a moderate supply of warmth reach its watery 
cradle, and the plastic matter undergoes changes 

1 [When this sentence was written, it was generally believed 
that the original nucleus of the egg (the germinal vesicle) 
disappeared. 1893.] 



30 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

so rapid, yet so steady and purposelike in their 
succession, that one can only compare them to 
those operated by a skilled modeller upon a form- 
less lump of clay. As with an invisible trowel, 
the mass is divided and subdivided into smaller 
and smaller portions, until it is reduced to an 
aggregation of granules not too large to build withal 
the finest fabrics of the nascent organism. And, 
then, it is as if a delicate finger traced out the line 
to be occupied by the spinal column, and moulded 
the contour of the body ; pinching up the head 
at one end, the tail at the other, and fashioning 
flank and limb into due salamandrine proportions, 
in so artistic a way, that, after watching the process 
hour by hour, one is almost involuntarily possessed 
bv the notion, that some more subtle aid to vision 
than an achromatic, would show the hidden artist, 
with his plan before him, striving with skilful 
manipulation to perfect his work. 

As life advances, and the young amphibian 
ranges the waters, the terror of his insect con- 
temporaries, not only are the nutritious particles 
supplied by its prey, by the addition of which to 
its frame, growth takes place, laid down, each in 
its proper spot, and in such due proportion to the 
rest, as to reproduce the form, the colour, and the 
size, characteristic of the parental stock ; but even 
the wonderful powers of reproducing lost parts 
possessed by these animals are controlled by the 
same governing tendency. Cut off the legs, the 



n THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 31 

tail, the jaws, separately or all together, and, as 
Spallanzani showed long ago, these parts not only 
grow again, but the redintegrated limb is formed 
on the same type as those which were lost. The 
new jaw, or leg, is a newt's, and never by any 
accident more like that of a frog. What is true 
of the newt is true of every animal and of every 
plant ; the acorn tends to build itself up again 
into a woodland giant such as that from whose 
twig it fell ; the spore of the humblest lichen 
reproduces the green or brown incrustation which 
gave it birth ; and at the other end of the scale of 
life, the child that resembled neither the paternal 
nor the maternal side of the house would be 
regarded as a kind of monster. 

So that the one end to which, in all living 
beings, the formative impulse is tending the one 
scheme which the Archaeus of the old speculators 
strives to carry out, seems to be to mould the 
offspring into the likeness of the parent. It is 
the first great law of reproduction, that the 
offspring tends to resemble its parent or parents, 
more closely than anything else. 

Science will some day show us how this law is a 
necessary consequence of the more general laws 
which govern matter ; but, for the present, more 
can hardly be said than that it appears to be iii 
harmony with them. - We know that the phe- 
nomena of vitality are not something apart from 
other physical phenomena, but one with them ; 



32 THE OEIGIN OF SPECIES n 

and matter and force are the two names of the 
one artist who fashions the living as well as the 
lifeless. Hence living bodies should obey the 
same great laws as other matter nor, throughout 
Nature, is there a law of wider application than 
this, that a body impelled by two forces takes the 
direction of their resultant. But living bodies 
may be regarded as nothing but extremely complex 
bundles of forces held in a mass of matter, as the 
complex forces of a magnet are held in the steel 
by its coercive force ; and, since the differences 
of sex are comparatively slight, or, in other words, 
the sum of the forces in each has a very similar 
tendency, their resultant, the offspring, may reason- 
ably be expected to deviate but little from a course 
parallel to either, or to both. 

Represent the reason of the law to ourselves by 
what physical metaphor or analogy we will, how- 
ever, the great matter is to apprehend its existence 
and the importance of the consequences deducible 
from it. For things which are like to the same 
are like to one another ; and if, in a great series of 
generations, every offspring is like its parent, it 
follows that all the offspring and all the parents 
must be like one another; and that, given an 
original parental stock, with the opportunity of 
undisturbed multiplication, the law in question 
necessitates the production, in course of time, of 
an indefinitely large group, the whole of the mem- 
bers of which are at once very similar and are blood 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 33 

relations, having descended from the same parent, 
or pair of parents. The proof that all the members 
of any given group of animals, or plants, had thus 
descended, would be ordinarily considered sufficient 
to entitle them to the rank of physiological species, 
for most physiologists consider species to be de- 
finable as "the offspring of a single primitive 
stock." 

But though it is quite true that all those 
groups we call species may, according to the 
known laws of reproduction, have descended from 
a single stock, and though it is very likely they 
really have done so, yet this conclusion rests on 
deduction and can hardly hope to establish itself 
upon a basis of observation. And the primitive- 
ness of the supposed single stock, which, after all, 
is the essential part of the matter, is not only a 
hypothesis, but one which has not a shadow of 
foundation, if by " primitive " be meant " indepen- 
dent of any other living being." A scientific 
definition, of which an unwarrantable hypothesis 
forms an essential part, carries its condemnation 
within itself; but, even supposing such a 
definition were, in form, tenable, the physiologist 
who should attempt to apply it in Nature would 
soon find himself involved in great, if not in- 
extricable, difficulties. As we have said, it is 
indubitable that offspring tend to resemble the 
parental organism, but it is equally true that the 
similarity attained never amounts to identity 



34 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

either in form or in structure. There is always a 
certain amount of deviation, not only from the 
precise characters of a single parent, but when, as 
in most animals and many plants, the sexes are 
lodged in distinct individuals, from an exact mean 
between the two parents. And indeed, on 
general principles, this slight deviation seems as 
intelligible as the general similarity, if we reflect 
how complex the co-operating " bundles of forces " 
are, and how improbable it is that, in any case, 
their true resultant shall coincide with any mean 
between the more obvious characters of the two 
parents. Whatever be its cause, however, the 
co-existence of this tendency to minor variation 
with the tendency to general similarity, is of vast 
importance in its bearing on the question of the 
origin of species. 

As a general rule, the extent to which an 
offspring differs from its parent is slight enough ; 
but, occasionally, the amount of difference is much 
more strongly marked, and then the divergent 
offspring receives the name of a Variety. Multi- 
tudes, of what there is every reason to believe are 
such varieties, are known, but the origin of very 
few has been accurately recorded, and of these we 
will select two as more especially illustrative of 
the main features of variation. The first of them 
is that of the " Ancon " or " Otter " sheep, of 
which a careful account is given by Colonel 
David Humphreys, JF.R.S., in a letter to Sir 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 35 

Joseph Banks, published in the " Philosophical 
Transactions " for 1813. It appears that one Seth 
Wright, the proprietor of a farm on the banks 
of the Charles River, in Massachusetts, possessed 
a flock of fifteen ewes and a ram of the ordinary 
kind. In the year 1791, one of the ewes 
presented her owner with a male lamb, differing, 
for no assignable reason, from its parents by a 
proportionally long body and short bandy legs, 
whence it was unable to emulate its relatives in 
those sportive leaps over the neighbours' fences, 
in which they were in the habit of indulging, 
much to the good farmer's vexation. 

The second case is that detailed by a no less 
unexceptionable authority than Reaumur, in his 
"Art de faire eclore les Poulets." A Maltese 
couple, named Kelleia, whose hands and feet were 
constructed upon the ordinary human model, had 
born to them a son, Gratio, who possessed six per- 
fectly movable fingers on each hand, and six toes, 
not quite so well formed, on each foot. No cause 
could be assigned for the appearance of this unusual 
variety of the human species. 

Two circumstances are well worthy of remark in 
both these cases. In each, the variety appears to 
have arisen, in full force, and, as it were, per saltum ; 
a wide and definite difference appearing, at once, 
between the Ancon ram and the ordinary sheep ; 
between the six-fingered and six-toed Gratio Kelleia 
and ordinary men. In neither case is it possible 



36 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

to point out any obvious reason for the appearance 
of the variety. Doubtless there were determining 
causes for these as for all other phenomena ; but 
they do not appear, and we can be tolerably certain 
that what are ordinarily understood as changes in 
physical conditions, as in climate, in food, or the 
like, did not take place and had nothing to do with 
the matter. It was no case of what is commonly 
called adaptation to circumstances ; but, to use a 
conveniently erroneous phrase, the variations arose 
spontaneously. The fruitless search after final 
causes leads their pursuers a long way ; but even 
those hardy teleologists, who are ready to break 
through all the laws of physics in chase of their 
favourite will-o'-the-wisp, may be puzzled to dis- 
cover what purpose could be attained by the stunted 
legs of Seth Wright's ram or the hexadactyle 
members of Gratio Kelleia. 

Varieties then arise we know not why ; and it is 
more than probable that the majority of varieties 
have arisen in this " spontaneous " manner, though 
we are, of course, far from denying that they may 
be traced, in some cases, to distinct external in- 
fluences ; which are assuredly competent to alter 
the character of the tegumentary covering, to 
change colour, to increase or diminish the size of 
muscles, to modify constitution, and, among plants, 
to give rise to the metamorphosis of stamens into 
petals, and so forth. But however they may have 
arisen, what especially interests us at present is, to 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 37 

remark that, once in existence, many varieties obey 
the fundamental law of reproduction that like tends 
to produce like; and their offspring exemplify it by 
tending to exhibit the same deviation from the 
parental stock as themselves. Indeed, there seems 
to be, in many instances, a prepotent influence 
about a newly-arisen variety which gives it what 
one may call an unfair advantage over the normal 
descendants from the same stock. This is strik- 
ingly exemplified by the case of Gratio Kelleia, 
who married a woman with the ordinary penta- 
dactyle extremities, and had by her four children, 
Salvator, George, Andre", and Marie. Of these 
children Salvator, the eldest boy, had six fingers 
and six toes, like his father ; the second and third, 
also boys, had five fingers and five toes, like their 
mother, though the hands and feet of George 
were slightly deformed. The last, a girl, had five 
fingers and five toes, but the thumbs were slightly 
deformed. The variety thus reproduced itself 
purely in the eldest, while the normal type 
reproduced itself purely in the third, and almost 
purely in the second and last : so that it would 
seem, at first, as if the normal type were more 
powerful than the variety. But all these children 
grew up and intermarried with normal wives and 
husband, and then, note what took place : Salvator 
had four children, three of whom exhibited the 
hexadactyle members of their grandfather and 
father, while the youngest had the pentadactyle 



38 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

limbs of the mother and grandmother; so that 
here, notwithstanding a double pentadactyle 
dilution of the blood, the hexadactyle variety had 
the best of it. The same pre-potency of the 
variety was still more markedly exemplified in the 
progeny of two of the other children, Marie and 
George. Marie (whose thumbs only were de- 
formed) gave birth to a boy with six toes, and 
three other normally formed children ; but George, 
who was not quite so pure a pentadactyle, begot, 
first, two girls, each of whom had six fingers and 
toes ; then a girl with six fingers on each hand and 
six toes on the right foot, but only five toes on 
the left ; and lastly, a boy with only five fingers 
and toes. In these instances, therefore, the 
variety, as it were, leaped over one generation to 
reproduce itself in full force in the next. Finally, 
the purely pentadactyle Andre was the father of 
many children, not one of whom departed from 
the normal parental type. 

If a variation which approaches the nature of a 
monstrosity can strive thus forcibly to reproduce 
itself, it is not wonderful that less aberrant 
modifications should tend to be preserved even 
more strongly ; and the history of the Ancon sheep 
is, in this respect, particularly instructive. With 
the " 'cuteness " characteristic of their nation, the 
neighbours of the Massachusetts farmer imagined 
it would be an excellent thing if all his sheep 
were imbued with the stay-at-home tendencies 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 39 

enforced by Nature upon the newly-arrived ram ; 
and they advised Wright to kill the old patriarch 
of his fold, and install the Ancon ram in his place. 
The result justified their sagacious anticipations, 
and coincided very nearly with what occurred to 
the progeny of Gratio Kelleia. The young lambs 
were almost always either pure Ancons, or pure 
ordinary sheep. 1 But when sufficient Ancon 
sheep were obtained to interbreed with one 
another, it was found that the offspring was 
always pure Ancon. Colonel Humphreys, in fact, 
states that he was acquainted with only " one 
questionable case of a contrary nature." Here, 
then, is a remarkable and well-established 
instance, not only of a very distinct race being 
established per salhim, but of that race breeding 
" true " at once, and showing no mixed forms, 
even when crossed with another breed. 

By taking care to select Ancons of both sexes, 
for breeding from, it thus became easy to establish 
an extremely well-marked race ; so peculiar that, 

1 Colonel Humphreys' statements are exceedingly explicit on 
this point : " When an Ancon ewe is impregnated by a com- 
mon ram, the increase resembles wholly either the ewe or the 
ram. The increase of the common ewe impregnated by an 
Ancon ram follows entirely the one or the other, without 
blending any of the distinguishing and essential peculiarities 
of both. Frequent instances have happened where common 
ewes have had twins by Ancon rams, when one exhibited the 
complete marks and features of the ewe, the other of the ram. 
The contrast has been rendered singularly striking, when one 
short-legged and one long-legged lamb, produced at a birth, 
have been seen sucking the dam at the same time." Philoso- 
phical Transactions, 1813, Pt. J. pp. 89, 90. 
32 



40 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

even when herded with other sheep, it was noted 
that the Ancons kept together. And there is 
every reason to believe that the existence of this 
breed might have been indefinitely protracted ; 
but the introduction of the Merino sheep, which 
were not only very superior to the Ancons in wool 
and meat, but quite as quiet and orderly, led to 
the complete neglect of the new breed, so that, in 
1813, Colonel Humphreys found it difficult to 
obtain the specimen, the skeleton of which was 
presented to Sir Joseph Banks. We believe that, 
for many years, no remnant of it has existed in 
the United States. 

Gratio Kelleia was not the progenitor of a race 
of six-fingered men, as Seth Wright's ram became 
a nation of Ancon sheep, though the tendency of 
the variety to perpetuate itself appears to have 
been fully as strong in the one case as in the 
other. And the reason of the difference is not 
far to seek. Seth Wright took care not to weaken 
the Ancon blood by matching his Ancon ewes 
with any but males of the same variety, while 
Gratio Kelleia's sons were too far removed from 
the patriarchal times to intermarry with their 
sisters ; and his grand -children seem not to have 
been attracted by their six-fingered cousins. In 
other words, in the one example a race was pro- 
duced, because, for several generations, care was 
taken to select both parents of the breeding stock 
from animals exhibiting a tendency to vary in the 



n THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 41 

same direction ; while, in the other, no race was 
evolved, because no such selection was exercised. 
A race is a propagated variety ; and as, by the laws 
of reproduction, offspring tend to assume the 
parental forms, they will be more likely to pro- 
pagate a variation exhibited by both parents than 
that possessed by only one. 

There is no organ of the body of an animal 
which may not, and does not, occasionally, vary 
more or less from the normal type ; and there is no 
variation which may not be transmitted and which, 
if selectively transmitted, may not become the 
foundation of a race. This great truth, sometimes 
forgotten by philosophers, has long been familiar 
to practical agriculturists and breeders ; and upon 
it rest all the methods of improving the breeds of 
domestic animals, which, for the last century, have 
been followed with so much success in England. 
Colour, form, size, texture of hair or wool, pro- 
portions of various parts, strength or weakness of 
constitution, tendency to fatten or to remain lean, 
to give much or little milk, speed, strength, tem- 
per, intelligence, special instincts ; there is not one 
of these characters the transmission of which is not 
an every-day occurrence within the experience of 
cattle-breeders, stock-farmers, horse-dealers, and 
dog and poultry fanciers. Nay, it is only the other 
day that an eminent physiologist, Dr. Brown- 
Sequard, communicated to the Royal Society his 
discovery that epilepsy, artificially produced in 



42 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

guinea-pigs, by a means which he has discovered, 
is transmitted to their offspring. 1 

But a race, once produced, is no more a fixed 
and immutable entity than the stock whence it 
sprang ; variations arise among its members, and 
as these variations are transmitted like any others, 
new races may be developed out of the pre-exist- 
ing one ad infinitum, or, at least, within any limit 
at present determined. Given sufficient time and 
sufficiently careful selection, and the multitude of 
races which may arise from a common stock is as 
astonishing as are the extreme structural differ- 
ences which they may present. A remarkable 
example of this is to be found in the rock-pigeon, 
which Mr. Darwin has, in our opinion, satisfactorily 
demonstrated to be the progenitor of all our 
domestic pigeons, of which there are certainly 
more than a hundred well-marked races. The 
most noteworthy of these races are, the four great 
stocks known to the " fancy " as tumblers, pouters, 
carriers, and fantails ; birds which not only differ 
most singularly in size, colour, and habits, but in the 
form of the beak and of the skull : in the pro- 
portions of the beak to the skull ; in the number 
of tail-feathers ; in the absolute and relative size of 
the feet ; in the presence or absence of the uropygial 
gland ; in the number of vertebrae in the back ; 
in short, in precisely those characters in which 

1 [Compare Weismann's Essays Upon Heredity, p. 310, et scq. 
1893.] 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 43 

the genera and species of birds differ from one 
another. 

And it is most remarkable and instructive to 
observe, that none of these races can be shown to 
have been originated by the action of changes in 
what are commonly called external circumstances, 
upon the wild rock-pigeon. On the contrary, 
from time immemorial pigeon -fanciers have had 
essentially similar methods of treating their pets, 
which have been housed, fed, protected and cared 
for in much the same way in all pigeonries. In 
fact, there is no case better adapted than that of 
the pigeons to refute the doctrine which one sees 
put forth on high authority, that " no other 
characters than those founded on the development 
of bone for the attachment of muscles" are 
capable of variation. In precise contradiction of 
this hasty assertion, Mr. Darwin's researches 
prove that the skeleton of the wings in domestic 
pigeons has hardly varied at all from that of the 
wild type ; while, on the other hand, it is in exactly 
those respects, such as the relative length of the 
beak and skull, the number of the vertebrae, and 
the number of the tail-feathers, in which muscular 
exertion can have no important influence, that 
the utmost amount of variation has taken place. 

We have said that the following out of the 
properties exhibited by physiological species would 
lead us into difficulties, and at this point they begin 



44 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

to be obvious ; for if, as the result of spontaneous 
variation and of selective breeding, the progeny of 
a common stock may become separated into groups 
distinguished from one another by constant, not 
sexual, morphological characters, it is clear that 
the physiological definition of species is likely to 
clash with the morphological definition. No one 
would hesitate to describe the pouter and the 
tumbler as distinct species, if they were found fossil, 
or if their skins and skeletons were imported, as 
those of exotic wild birds commonly are -and with- 
out doubt, if considered alone, they are good and 
distinct morphological species. On the other hand, 
they are not physiological species, for they are 
descended from a common stock, the rock-pigeon. 

Under these circumstances, as it is admitted on 
all sides that races occur in Nature, how are we to 
know whether any apparently distinct animals are 
really of different physiological species, or not, 
seeing that the amount of morphological difference 
is no safe guide ? Is there any test of a physio- 
logical species ? The usual answer of physiologists 
is in the affirmative. It is said that such a test is 
to be found in the phsenomena of hybridisation 
in the results of crossing races, as compared with 
the results of crossing species. 

So far as the evidence goes at present, in- 
dividuals, of what are certainly known to be mere 
races produced by selection, however distinct they 
may appear to be, not only breed freely together, 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 45 

but the offspring of such crossed races are perfectly 
fertile with one another. Thus, the spaniel and 
the greyhound, the dray-horse and the Arab, the 
pouter and the tumbler, breed together with perfect 
freedom, and their mongrels, if matched with other 
mongrels of the same kind, are equally fertile. 

On the other hand, there can be no doubt that 
the individuals of many natural species are either 
absolutely infertile if crossed with individuals of 
other species, or, if they give rise to hybrid 
offspring, the hybrids so produced are infertile 
when paired together. The horse and the ass, 
for instance, if so crossed, give rise to the mule, 
arid there is no certain evidence of offspring ever 
having been produced by a male and female 
mule. The unions of the rock-pigeon and the 
ring-pigeon appear to be equally barren of result. 
Here, then, says the physiologist, we have a means 
of distinguishing any two true species from any 
two varieties. If a male and a female, selected 
from each group, produce offspring, and that off- 
spring is fertile with others produced in the same 
way, the groups are races and not species. If, on 
the other hand, no result ensues, or if the offspring 
are infertile with others produced in the same 
way, they are true physiological species. The 
test would be an admirable one. if, in the first 
place, it were always practicable to apply it, and 
if, in the second, it always yielded results suscep- 
tible of a definite interpretation. Unfortunately, 



THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 





in the great majority of cases, this touchstone for 
species is wholly inapplicable. 

The constitution of many wild animals is so 
altered by confinement that they will not breed 
even with their own females, so that the negative 
results obtained from crosses are of no value ; and 
the antipathy of wild animals of different species 
for one another, or even of wild and tame members 
of the same species, is ordinarily so great, that it 
is hopeless to look for such unions in Nature. 
The hermaphrodism of most plants, the difficulty 
in the way of insuring the absence of their own 
or the proper working of other pollen, are obsta- 
cles of no less magnitude in applying the test to 
them. And, in both animals and plants, is super- 
added the further difficulty, that experiments 
must be continued over a long time for the purpose 
of ascertaining the fertility of the mongrel or 
hybrid progeny, as well as of the first crosses from 
which they spring. 

Not only do these great practical difficulties lie 
in the way of applying the hybridisation test, but 
even wlien this oracle can be questioned, its replies 
are sometimes as doubtful as those of Delphi. 
For example, cases are cited by Mr. Darwin, of 
plants which are more fertile with the pollen of 
another species than with their own ; and there 
are others, such as certain Fuci^the male element 
of which will fertilise the ovule of a plant of 
distinct species, while the males of the latter 

. 



n THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 47 

species are ineffective with the females of the 
first. So that, in the last-named instance, a 
physi6logist, who should cross the two species in 
one way, would decide that they were true species; 
while another, who should cross them in the 
reverse way, would, with equal justice, according 
to the rule, pronounce them to be mere races. 
Several plants, which there is great reason to 
believe are mere varieties, are almost sterile when 
crossed ; while both animals and plants, which 
have always been regarded by naturalists as of 
distinct species, turn out, when the test is applied, 
to be perfectly fertile. Again, the sterility or 
fertility of crosses seems to bear no relation to the 
structural resemblances or differences of the 
members of any two groups. 

Mr. Darwin has discussed this question with 
singular ability and circumspection, and his con- 
clusions are summed up as follows, at page 276 of 
his work : 

" First crosses between forms sufficiently distinct to be ranked 
as species, and their hybrids, are very generally, b\it not 
universally, sterile. The sterility is of all degrees, and is often 
so slight that the two most careful experimentalists who have 
ever lived have come to diametrically opposite conclusions in 
ranking forms by this test. The sterility is innately variable 
in individuals of the same species, and is eminently susceptible 
of favourable and unfavourable conditions. The degree of 
sterility does not strictly follow systematic affinity, but is 
governed by several curious and complex laws. It is generally 
different and sometimes widely different, in reciprocal crosses 



48 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

between the same two species. It is not always equal in degree 
in a first cross, and in the hybrid produced from this cross. 

" In the same manner as in grafting trees, the capacity of 
one species or variety to take on another is incidental on 
generally unknown differences in their vegetative systems ; so 
in crossing, the greater or less facility of one species to unite 
with another is incidental on unknown differences in their 
reproductive systems. There is no more reason to think that 
species have been specially endowed with various degrees of 
sterility to prevent them crossing and breeding in Nature, than 
to think that trees have been specially endowed with various 
and somewhat analogous degrees of difficulty in being grafted 
together, in order to prevent them becoming inarched in our 
forests. 

"The sterility of first crosses between pure species, which 
have their reproductive systems perfect, seems to depend on 
several circumstances ; in some cases largely on the early death of 
the embryo. The sterility of hybrids which have their repro- 
ductive systems imperfect, and which have had this system 
and their whole organisation disturbed by being compounded 
of two distinct species, seems closely allied to that sterility 
which so frequently affects pure species when their natural con- 
ditions of life have been disturbed. This view is supported by 
a parallelism of another kind : namely, that the crossing of 
forms, only slightly different, is favourable to the vigour and 
fertility of the offspring ; and that slight changes in the con- 
ditions of life are apparently favourable to the vigour and 
fertility of all organic beings. It is not surprising that the 
degree of difficulty in uniting two species, and the degree of 
sterility of their hybrid offspring, should generally correspond, 
though due to distinct causes ; for both depend on the amount 
of difference of some kind between the species which are crossed. 
Nor is it surprising that the facility of effecting a first cross, 
the fertility of hybrids produced from it, and the capacity of 
being grafted together though this latter capacity evidently 
depends on widely different circumstances should all run to a 
certain extent parallel with the systematic affinity of the forms 
which are subjected to experiment ; for systematic affinity 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 49 

attempts to express all kinds of resemblance between all 



"First crosses between forms known to be varieties, or 
sufficiently alike to be considered as varieties, and their mon- 
grel offspring, are very generally, but not quite universally, 
fertile. Nor is this nearly general and perfect fertility sur- 
prising, when we remember how liable we are to argue in a 
circle with respect to varieties in a state of Nature ; and when 
we remember that the greater number of varieties have been 
produced under domestication by the selection of mere external 
differences, and not of differences in the reproductive system. 
In all other respects, excluding fertility, there is a close general 
resemblance between hybrids and mongrels." Pp. 276 8. 

We fully agree with the general tenor of this 
weighty passage ; but forcible as are these argu- 
ments, and little as the value of fertility or 
infertility as a test of species may be, it must not 
be forgotten that the really important fact, so far 
as the inquiry into the origin of species goes, is, 
that there are such things in Nature as groups of 
animals and of plants, the members of which are in-^ 
capable of fertile union with those of other groups ; 
and that there are such things as hybrids, which 
are absolutely sterile when crossed with other 
hybrids. For, if such phenomena as these were 
exhibited by only two of those assemblages of 
living objects, to which the name of species 
(whether it be used in its physiological or in its 
morphological sense) is given, it would have to be 
accounted for by any theory of the origin of 
species, and every theory which could not account 
for it would be, so far, imperfect. 



50 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

Up to this point, we have been dealing with 
matters of fact, and the statements which we 
have laid before the reader would, to the best of 
our knowledge, be admitted to contain a fair 
exposition of what is at present known respecting 
the essential properties of species, by all who 
have studied the question. And whatever may 
be his theoretical views, no naturalist will prob- 
ably be disposed to demur to the following 
summary of that exposition : 

Living beings, whether ' animals or plants, are 
divisible into multitudes of distinctly definable 
kinds, which are morphological species. They are 
also divisible into groups of individuals, which 
breed freely together, tending to reproduce their 
like, and are physiological species. Normally 
resembling their parents, the offspring of members 
of these species are still liable to vary ; and the 
variation may be perpetuated by selection, as a 
race, which race, in many cases, presents all the 
characteristics of a morphological species. But 
it is not as yet proved that a race ever exhibits, 
when crossed with another race of the same 
species, those phenomena of hybridisation which 
are exhibited by many species when crossed with 
other species. On the other hand, not only is it 
not proved that all species give rise to hybrids 
infertile inter se, but there is much reason to 
believe that, in crossing, species exhibit every 
gradation from perfect sterility to perfect fertility. 



n THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 51 

Such are the most essential characteristics of 
species. Even were man not one of them a 
member of the same system and subject to the 
same laws the question of their origin, their 
causal connexion, that is, with the other pheno- 
mena of the universe, must have attracted his 
attention, as soon as his intelligence had raised 
itself above the level of his daily wants. 

Indeed history relates that such was the case, 
and has embalmed for us the speculations upon 
the origin of living beings, which were among the 
earliest products of the dawning intellectual activity 
of man. In those early days positive knowledge 
was not to be had, but the craving after it needed, 
at all hazards, to be satisfied, and according to the 
country, or the turn of thought, of the speculator, 
the suggestion that all living things arose from the 
mud of the Nile, from a primeval egg, or from some 
more anthropomorphic agency, afforded a sufficient 
resting-place for his curiosity. The myths of 
Paganism are as dead as Osiris or Zeus, and the 
man who should revive them, in opposition to the 
knowledge of our time, would be justly laughed to 
scorn ; but the coeval imaginations current among 
the rude inhabitants of Palestine, recorded by 
writers whose very name and age are admitted by 
every scholar to be unknown, have unfortunately 
not yet shared their fate, but, even at this day, are 
regarded by nine-tenths of the civilised world as 
the authoritative standard of fact and the criterion 



52 THE OKIGIN OF SPECIES n 

of the justice of scientific conclusions, in all that 
relates to the origin of things, and, among them, 
of species. In this nineteenth century, as at the 
dawn of modern physical science, the cosmogony 
of the semi-barbarous Hebrew is the incubus of 
the philosopher and the opprobrium of the ortho- 
dox. Who shall number the patient and earnest 
seekers after truth, from the days of Galileo until 
now, whose lives have been embittered and their 
good name blasted by the mistaken zeal of Biblio- 
laters ? Who shall count the host of weaker men 
whose sense of truth has been destroyed in the effort 
to harmonise impossibilities whose life has been 
wasted in the attempt to force the generous new 
wine of Science into the old bottles of Judaism, com- 
pelled by the outcry of the same strong party ? 

It is true that if philosophers have suffered, their 
cause has been amply avenged. Extinguished 
theologians lie about the cradle of every science as 
the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules ; and 
history records that whenever science and ortho- 
doxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has been 
forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed 
if not annihilated ; scotched, if not slain. But 
orthodoxy is the Bourbon of the world of thought. 
It learns not, neither can it forget ; and though, 
at present, bewildered and afraid to move, it is as 
willing as ever to insist that the first chapter of 
Genesis contains the beginning and the end of 
sound science; and to visit, with such petty 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 53 

thunderbolts as its half-paralysed hands can hurl, 
those who refuse to degrade Nature to the level of 
primitive Judaism. 

Philosophers, on the other hand, have no such 
aggressive tendencies. With eyes fixed on the 
noble goal to which "per aspera et ardua" they 
tend, they may, now and then, be stirred to 
momentary wrath by the unnecessary obstacles 
with which the ignorant, or the malicious, encum- 
ber, if they cannot bar, the difficult path ; but why 
should their souls be deeply vexed ? The majesty 
of Fact is on their side, and the elemental forces 
of Nature are working for them. Not a star comes 
to the meridian at its calculated time but testifies 
to the justice of their methods their beliefs are 
" one with the falling rain and with the growing 
corn." By doubt they are established, and open 
inquiry is their bosom friend. Such men have no 
fear of traditions however venerable, and no respect 
for them when they become mischievous and 
obstructive ; but they have better than mere anti- 
quarian business in hand, and if dogmas, which 
ought to be fossil but are not, are not forced upon 
their notice, they are too happy to treat them as 
non-existent. 

The hypotheses respecting the origin of species 
which profess to stand upon a scientific basis, and, 
as such, alone demand serious attention, are of two 
kinds. The one, the " special creation " hypothesis, 



54 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

presumes every species to have originated from one 
or more stocks, these not being the result of the 
modification of any other form of living matter or 
arising by natural agencies but being produced, 
as such, by a supernatural creative act. 

The other, the so-called " transmutation " 
hypothesis, considers that all existing species are 
the result of the modification of pre-existing 
species, and t hose of their predecessors, by agencies 
similar to those which at the present day produce 
varieties and races, and therefore in an altogether 
natural way ; and it is a probable, though not a 
necessary consequence of this hypothesis, that all 
living beings have arisen from a single stock. 
With respect to the origin of this primitive stock, 
or stocks, the doctrine of the origin of species is 
obviously not necessarily concerned. The trans- 
mutation hypothesis, for example, is perfectly 
consistent either with the conception of a special 
creation of the primitive germ, or with the 
supposition of its having arisen, as a modification 
of inorganic matter, by natural causes. 

The doctrine of special creation owes its exist- 
ence very largely to the supposed necessity of 
making science accord with the Hebrew cos- 
mogony ; but it is curious to observe that, as the 
doctrine is at present maintained by men of 
science, it is as hopelessly inconsistent with the 
Hebrew view as any other hypothesis. 

If there be any result which has come more 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 55 

clearly out of geological investigation than another, 
it is, that the vast series of extinct animals and 
plants is not divisible, as it was once supposed to 
be, into distinct groups, separated by sharply- 
marked boundaries. There are no great gulfs 
between epochs and formations no successive 
periods marked by the appearance of plants, of 
water animals, and of land animals, en masse. 
Every year adds to the list of links between 
what the older geologists supposed to be widely 
separated epochs : witness the crags linking the 
drift with older tertiaries ; the Maestricht beds 
linking the tertiaries with the chalk; the St. 
Cassian beds exhibiting an abundant fauna of 
mixed mesozoic and palaeozoic types, in rocks of an 
epoch once supposed to be eminently poor in life ; 
witness, lastly, the incessant disputes as to whether 
a given stratum shall be reckoned devonian or 
carboniferous, silurian or devonian, cambrian or 
silurian. 

This truth is further illustrated in a most 
interesting manner by the impartial and highly 
competent testimony of M. Pictet, from whose 
calculations of what percentage of the genera of 
animals, existing in any formation, lived during 
the preceding formation, it results that in no case 
is the proportion less than one-third, or 33 per 
cent. It is the triassic formation, or the com- 
mencement of the mesozoic epoch, which has 
received the smallest inheritance from preceding 

33 



56 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

ages. The other formations not uncommonly 
exhibit 60, 80, or even 94 per cent, of genera in 
common with those whose remains are imbedded 
in their predecessor. Not only is this true, biit 
the subdivisions of each formation exhibit new 
species characteristic of, and found only in, them ; 
and, in many cases, as in the lias for example, the 
separate beds of these subdivisions are distin- 
guished by well-marked and peculiar forms of life. 
A section, a hundred feet thick, will exhibit, at 
different heights, a dozen species of ammonite, 
none of which passes beyond its particular zone 
of limestone, or clay, into the zone below it or into 
that above it ; so that those who adopt the doc- 
trine of special creation must be prepared to admit, 
that at intervals of time, corresponding with the 
thickness of these beds, the Creator thought fit 
to interfere with the natural course of events for 
the purpose of making a new ammonite. It is 
not easy to transplant oneself into the frame of 
mind of those who can accept such a conclusion 
as this, on any evidence short of absolute demon- 
stration ; and it is difficult to see what is to be 
gained by so doing, since, as we have said, it is 
obvious that such a view of the origin of living 
beings is utterly opposed to the Hebrew cos- 
mogony. Deserving no aid from the powerful 
arm of Bibliolatry, then, does the received form of 
the hypothesis of special creation derive any 
support from science or sound logic ? Assuredly 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 57 

not much. The arguments brought forward in its 
favour all take one form : If species were not 
supernaturally created, we cannot understand the 
facts x, or y, or z ; we cannot understand the 
structure of animals or plants, unless we suppose 
they were contrived for special ends ; we cannot 
understand the structure of the eye, except by 
supposing it to have been made to see with ; we 
cannot understand instincts, unless we suppose 
animals to have been miraculously endowed with 
them. 

As a question of dialectics, it must be admitted 
that this sort of reasoning is not very formidable 
to those who are not to be frightened by conse- 
quences. It is an argumentum ad ignorantiam 
take this explanation or be ignorant. But suppose 
we prefer to admit our ignorance rather than 
adopt a hypothesis at variance with all the teach- 
ings of Nature ? Or, suppose for a moment we 
admit the explanation, and then seriously ask 
ourselves how much the wiser are we ; what does 
the explanation explain ? Is it any more than a 
grandiloquent way of announcing the fact, that we 
really know nothing about the matter? A 
phenomenon is explained when it is shown to be 
a case of some general law of Nature ; but the 
supernatural interposition of the Creator can, by 
the nature of the case, exemplify no law, and if 
species have really arisen in this way, it is absurd 
to attempt to discuss their origin. 



58 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

Or, lastly, let us ask ourselves whether any 
amount of evidence which the nature of our 
faculties permits us to attain, can justify us in 
asserting that any phgenomenon is out of the reach 
of natural causation. To this end it is obviously 
necessary that we should know all the con- 
sequences to which all possible combinations, 
continued through unlimited time, can give rise. 
If we knew these, and found none competent to 
originate species, we should have good ground for 
denying their origin by natural causation. Till 
we know them, any hypothesis is better than one 
which involves us in such miserable presumption. 

But the hypothesis of special creation is not 
only a mere specious mask for our ignorance ; its 
existence in Biology marks the youth and imper- 
fection of the science. For what is the history of 
every science but the history of the elimination 
of the notion of creative, or other interferences, 
with the natural order of the phsenomena which 
are the subject-matter of that science ? When 
Astronomy was young " the morning stars sang 
together for joy," and the planets were guided 
in their courses by celestial hands. Now, the 
harmony of the stars has resolved itself into 
gravitation according to the inverse squares of the 
distances, and the orbits of the planets are dedu- 
cible from the laws of the forces which allow a 
schoolboy's stone to break a window. The light- 
ning was the angel of the Lord ; but it has pleased 



IT THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 59 

Providence, in these modern times, .that science 
should make it the humble messenger of man, and 
we know that every flash that shimmers about 
the horizon on a summer's evening is determined 
by ascertainable conditions, and that its direction 
and brightness might, if our knowledge of these 
were great enough, have been calculated. 

The solvency of great mercantile companies 
rests on the validity of the laws which have been 
ascertained to govern the seeming irregularity of 
that human life which the moralist bewails as the 
most uncertain of things ; plague, pestilence, and 
famine are admitted, by all but fools, to be the 
natural result of causes for the most part fully 
within human control, and not the unavoidable 
tortures inflicted by wrathful Omnipotence upon 
His helpless handiwork. 

Harmonious order governing eternally continu- 
ous progress the web and woof of matter and 
force interweaving by slow degrees, without a 
broken thread, that veil which lies between us 
and the Infinite that universe which alone we 
know or can know ; such is the picture which 
science draws of the world, and in proportion as 
any part of that picture is in unison with the rest, 
so may we feel sure that it is rightly painted. 
Shall Biology alone remain out of harmony with 
her sister sciences ? 

Such arguments against the hypothesis of the 
direct creation of species as these are plainly 



60 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

enough deducible from general considerations ; but 
there are, in addition, phenomena exhibited by 
species themselves, and yet not so much a part of 
their very essence as to have required earlier 
mention, which are in the highest degree per- 
plexing, if we adopt the popularly accepted 
hypothesis. Such are the facts of distribution in 
space and in time ; the singular phenomena 
brought to light by the study of development ; 
the structural relations of species upon which our 
systems of classification are founded ; the great 
doctrines of philosophical anatomy, such as 
that of homology^ or of the community of 
^ tfL \ u4.structural plan exhibited by large groups of 



species differing very widely in their habits and 
functions. 

The species of animals which inhabit the sea on 
opposite sides of the isthmus of Panama are 
wholly distinct ; * the animals and plants which 
inhabit islands are commonly distinct from those 
of the neighbouring mainlands, and yet have a 
similarity of aspect. The mammals of the latest 
tertiary epoch in the Old and New Worlds belong 
to the same genera, or family groups, as those 
which now inhabit the same great geographical 
area. The crocodilian reptiles which existed in the 
earliest secondary epoch were similar in general 
structure to those now living, but exhibit slight 

1 Recent investigations tend to show that this statement is 
not strictly accurate. 1870. 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 61 

differences in their vertebrae, nasal passages, and 
one or two other points. The guinea-pig has 
teeth which are shed before it is born, and hence 
can never subserve the masticatory purpose for 
which they seem contrived, and, in like manner, 
the female dugong has tusks which never cut the 
gum. All the members of the same great group 
run through similar conditions in their develop- 
ment, and all their parts, in the adult state, are 
arranged according to the same plan. Man is 
more like a gorilla than a gorilla is like a lemur. 
Such are a few, taken at random, among the 
multitudes of similar facts which modern research 
has established ; but when the student seeks for 
an explanation of them from the supporters of 
the received hypothesis of the origin of species, 
the reply he receives is, in substance, of Oriental 
simplicity and brevity " Mashallah ! it so pleases 
God ! " There are different species on opposite 
sides of the isthmus of Panama, because they were 
created different on the two sides. The pliocene 
mammals are like the existing ones, because such 
was the plan of creation ; and we find rudimental 
organs and similarity of plan, because it has 
pleased the Creator to set before Himself a 
" divine exemplar or archetype," and to copy it in 
His works ; and somewhat ill, those who hold this 
view imply, in some of them. That such verbal 
hocus-pocus should be received as science will one 
day be regarded as evidence of the low state of 



THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 




intelligence in the nineteenth century, just as 
we amuse ourselves with the phraseology about 
Nature's abhorrence of a vacuum, wherewith 
Torricelli^s compatriots were satisfied to explain 
the rise of water in a pump. And be it recol- 
lected that this sort of satisfaction works not only 
negative but positive ill, by discouraging inquiry, 
and so depriving man of the usufruct of one of the 
J\ most fertile fields of his great patrimony, Nature. 
The objections to the doctrine of the origin of 
species by special creation which have been 

J detailed, must have occurred, with more or less 

force, to the mind of every one who has seriously 
and independently considered the subject. It is 
therefore no wonder that, from time to time, this 
hypothesis should have been met by counter 
hypotheses, all as well, and some better founded 
than itself ; and it is curious to remark that the 
inventors of the opposing views seem to have been 
led into them as much by their knowledge of 
geology, as by their acquaintance with biology. 
In fact, when the mind has once admitted the 
conception of the gradual production of the present 
physical state of our globe, by natural causes 
operating through long ages of time, it will be 
little disposed to allow that living beings have 
made their appearance in another way, and the 
speculations of De Maillet and his successors are 
the natural complement of Scilla's demonstration 
of the true nature of fossils. 



n THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 63 

A contemporary of Newton and of Leibnitz, 
sharing therefore" in the intellectual activity of the 
remarkable age which witnessed the birth of 
modern physical science, Benoit de Maillet spent 
a long life as a consular agent of the French Gov- 
ernment in various Mediterranean ports. For 
sixteen years, in fact, he held the office of Consul- 
General in Egypt, and the wonderful phenomena 
offered by the valley of the Nile appear to have 
strongly impressed his mind, to have directed his 
attention to all facts of a similar order which came 
within his observation, and to have led him to 
speculate on the origin of the present condition of 
our globe and of its inhabitants. But, with all 
his ardour for science, De Maillet seems to have 
hesitated to publish views which, notwithstanding 
the ingenious attempts to reconcile them with the 
Hebrew hypothesis contained in the preface to 
"Telliamed," were hardly likely to be received 
with favour by his contemporaries. 

But a short time had elapsed since more than 
one of the great anatomists and physicists of the 
Italian school had paid dearly for their endeavours 
to dissipate some of the prevalent errors ; and 
their illustrious pupil, Harvey, the founder of 
modem physiology, had not fared so well, in a 
country less oppressed by the benumbing in- 
fluences of theology, as to tempt any man to follow 
his example. Probably not uninfluenced by these 
considerations, his Catholic majesty's Consul- 



64 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

General for Egypt kept his theories to himself 
throughout a long life, for " Telliamed," the only 
scientific work which is known to have proceeded 
from his pen, was not printed till 1735, when its 
author had reached the ripe age of seventy-nine ; 
and though De Maillet lived three years longer, 
his book was not given to the world before 1748. 
Even then it was anonymous to those who were 
not in the secret of the anagrammatic character 
of its title ; and the preface and dedication are so 
worded as, in case of necessity, to give the printer 
a fair chance of falling back on the excuse that 
the work was intended for a mere jeu d 'esprit. 

The speculations of the suppositions Indian 
sage, though quite as sound as those of many a 
" Mosaic Geology," which sells exceedingly well, 
have no great value if we consider them by the 
light of modern science. The waters are supposed 
to have originally covered the whole globe ; to 
have deposited the rocky masses which compose 
its mountains by processes comparable to those 
which are now forming mud, sand, and shingle ; 
and then to have gradually lowered their level, 
leaving the spoils of their animal and vegetable 
inhabitants embedded in the strata. As the dry 
land appeared, certain of the aquatic animals are 
supposed to have taken to it, and to have become 
gradually adapted to terrestrial and aerial modes 
of existence. But if we regard the general tenor 
and style of the reasoning in relation to the state 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 65 

of knowledge of the day, two circumstances 
appear very well worthy of remark. The first, 
that De Maillet had a notion of the modifiability 
of living forms (though without any precise 
information on the subject), and how such modi- 
fiability might account for the origin of species ; 
the second, that he very clearly apprehended the 
great modern geological doctrine, so strongly 
insisted upon by Hutton, and so ably and 
comprehensively expounded by Lyell, that we 
must look to existing causes for the explanation 
of past geological events. Indeed, the following 
passage of the preface, in which De Maillet is 
supposed to speak of the Indian philosopher 
Telliamed, his alter ego, might have been written 
by the most philosophical uniformitarian of the 
present day : 

' ' Ce qu'il y a d'etonnant, est que pour aniver a ces connois- 
sances il semble avoir pervert! 1'ordre naturel, puisqu'au lieu de 
s'attacher d'abord a rechercher 1'origine de notre globe il a 
commence par travailler a s'instruire de la nature. Mais a 
1'entendre, ce renversement de 1'ordre a etc pour lui 1'effet d'un 
genie favorable qui 1'a conduit pas a pas et comme par la main 
aux decouvertes les plus sublimes. CTest en decomposant la 
substance de ce globe par une anatomic exacte de toutes ses 
parties qu'il a premierement appris de quelles matieres il etait 
compose et quels arrangemens ces memes matieres observaieri^ 
entre elles. Ces lumieres jointes a 1'esprit de comparaison 
toujours necessaire a quiconque entreprend de percer les voiles 
dont la nature aime a se cacher, ont servi de guide a notre 
philosophe pour parvenir a des connoissances plus interessantes. 
Par la matiere et 1'arrangement de ces compositions il pretend 



66 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

avoir reconnu quelle est la veritable origine de ce globe que nous 
habitons, comment et par qui il a ete forme." Pp. xix. xx. 

But De Maillet was before his age, and as could 
hardly fail to happen to one who speculated on a 
zoological and botanical question before Linnaeus, 
and on a physiological problem before Haller, he 
fell into great errors here and there ; and hence, 
perhaps, the general neglect of his work. Robinet's 
speculations are rather behind, than in advance 
of, those of De Maillet ; and though Linnaeus 
may have played with the hypothesis of trans- 
mutation, it obtained no serious support until 
Lamarck adopted it, and advocated it with great 
ability in his " Philosophic Zoologique." 

Impelled towards the hypothesis of the 
transmutation of species, partly by his general 
cosmological and geological views ; partly by the 
conception of a graduated, though irregularly 
branching, scale of being, which had arisen out of 
his profound study of plants and of the lower 
forms of animal life, Lamarck, whose general line 
of thought often closely resembles that of De 
Maillet, made a great advance upon the crude 
and merely speculative manner in which that writer 
deals with the question of the origin of living 
beings, by endeavouring to find physical causes 
competent to effect that change of one species 
into another, which De Maillet had only supposed 
to occur. And Lamarck conceived that he had 
found in Nature such causes, amply sufficient for 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 67 

the purpose in view. It is a physiological fact, 
he says, that organs are increased in size by 
action, atrophied by inaction ; it is another 
physiological fact that modifications produced are 
transmissible to offspring. Change the actions of 
an animal, therefore, and you will change its 
structure, by increasing the development of the 
parts newly brought into use and by the diminu- 
tion of those less used; but by altering the 
circumstances which surround it you will alter its 
actions, and hence, in the long run, change of 
circumstance must produce change of organisation. 
All the species of animals, therefore, are, in 
Lamarck's view, the result of the indirect action 
of changes of circumstance, upon those primitive 
germs which he considered to have originally 
arisen, by spontaneous generation, within the 
waters of the globe. It is curious, however, that 
Lamarck should insist so strongly x as he has done, 
that circumstances never in any degree directly 
modify the form or the organisation of animals, 
but only operate by changing their wants and 
consequently their actions ; Tor he thereby brings 
upon himself the obvious question, How, then, do 
plants, which cannot be said to have wants or 
actions, become modified ? To this he replies, 
that they are modified by the changes in their 
nutritive processes, which are effected by changing 
circumstances ; and it does not seem to have 

1 See Phil. Zoologiquc, vol. i. p. 222, et seq. 



8 



THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 



occurred to him that such changes might be as 
well supposed to take place among animals. 

When we have said that Lamarck felt that 
mere speculation was not the way to arrive at the 
origin of species, but that it was necessary, in 
order to the establishment of any sound theory 
on the subject, to discover by observation or 
otherwise, some vcra causa, competent to give rise 
to them ; that he affirmed the true order of 
classification to coincide with the order of their 
development one from another; that he insisted 
on the necessity of allowing sufficient time, very 
strongly ; and that all the varieties of instinct and 
reason were traced back by him to the same 
cause as that which has given rise to species, we 
have enumerated his chief contributions to the 
advance of the question. On the other hand, 
from his ignorance of any power in Nature 
competent to modify the structure of animals, 
except the development of parts, or atrophy of 
them, in consequence of a change of needs, 
Lamarck was led to attach infinitely greater 
weight than it deserves to this agency, and the 
absurdities into which he was led have met with 
deserved condemnation. Of the struggle for 
existence, on which, as we shall see, Mr. Darwin 
lays such great stress, he had no conception ; 
indeed, he doubts whether there really are such 
things as extinct species, unless they be such large 
animals as may have met their death at the 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 69 

hands of man ; and so little does he dream of 
there being any other destructive causes at work, 
that, in discussing the possible existence of fossil 
shells, he asks, " Pourquoi d'ailleurs seroient-ils 
perdues des que 1'homme n'a pu operer leur 
destruction ?"(" Phil. Zool.," vol. i. p. 77.) Of 
the influence of selection Lamarck has as little 
notion, and he makes no use of the wonderful 
phenomena which are exhibited by domesticated 
animals, and illustrate its powers. The vast 
influence of Cuvier was employed against the 
Lamarckian views, and, as the untenability of 
some of his conclusions was easily shown, his 
doctrines sank under the opprobrium of scientific, 
as well as of theological, heterodoxy. Nor have 
the efforts made of late years to revive them 
tended to re-establish their credit in the minds of 
sound thinkers acquainted with the facts of the 
case ; indeed it may be doubted whether Lamarck 
has not suffered more from his friends than from 
his foes. 

Two years ago, in fact, though we venture to 
question if even the strongest supporters of the 
special creation hypothesis had not, now and then, 
an uneasy consciousness that all was not right, 
their position seemed more impregnable than ever, 
if not by its own inherent strength, at any rate by 
the obvious failure of all the attempts which had 
been made to carry it. On the other hand, how- 
ever much the few, who thought deeply on the 



70 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

question of species, might be repelled by the 
generally received dogmas, they saw no way of 
escaping from them save by the adoption of 
suppositions so little justified by experiment 
or by observation as to be at least equally dis- 
tasteful. 

The choice lay between two absurdities and a 
middle condition of uneasy scepticism ; which 
last, however unpleasant and unsatisfactory, was 
obviously the only justifiable state of mind 
under the circumstances. 

Such being the general ferment in the minds of 
naturalists, it is no wonder that they mustered 
strong in the rooms of the Linnaean Society, on 
the 1st of July of the year 1858, to hear two 
papers by authors living on opposite sides of the 
globe, working out their results independently, 
and yet professing to have discovered one and the 
same solution of all the problems connected with 
species. The one of these authors was an able 
naturalist, Mr. Wallace, who had been employed 
for some years in studying the productions of the 
islands of the Indian Archipelago, and who had 
forwarded a memoir embodying his views to Mr. 
Darwin,for communication to the Linnaan Society. 
On perusing the essay, Mr. Darwin was not a little 
surprised to find that it embodied some of the 
leading ideas of a great work which he had been 
preparing for twenty years, and parts of which, 
containing a development of the very same views, 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 71 

had been perused by his private friends fifteen or 
sixteen years before. Perplexed in what manner 
to do full justice both to his friend and to himself, 
Mr. Darwin placed the matter in the hands of 
Dr. Hooker and Sir Charles Lyell, by whose advice 
he communicated a brief abstract of his own views 
to the Lirmaean Society, at the same time that 
Mr. Wallace's paper was read. Of that abstract, 
the work on the " Origin of Species " is an enlarge- 
ment ; but a complete statement of Mr. Darwin's 
doctrine is looked for in the large and well- 
illustrated work which he is said to be preparing 
for publication. 

The Darwinian hypothesis has the merit of 
being eminently simple and comprehensible in 
principle, and its essential positions may be stated 
in a very few words : all species have been pro- 
duced by the development of varieties from 
common stocks ; by the conversion of these, first 
into permanent races and then into new species, 
by the process of natural selection, which process 
is essentially identical with that artificial selection 
by which man has originated the races of domestic 
animals the struggle for existence taking the 
place of man, and exerting, in the case of natural 
selection, that selective action which he performs 
in artificial selection. \ 

The evidence brought forward by Mr. Darwin in 
support of his hypothesis is of three kinds. First, 

34 



72 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES II 

he endeavours to prove that species may be 
. originated by selection ; secondly, he attempts to 
show that natural causes are competent to exert 
. selection ; and thirdly, he tries to prove that the 
most remarkable and apparently anomalous 
phenomena exhibited by the distribution, 
development, and mutual relations of species, 
can be shown to be deducible from the general 
doctrine of their origin, which he propounds, 
combined with the known facts of geological 
change ; and that, even if all these phenomena 
are not at present explicable by it, none are 
necessarily inconsistent with it. 

There cannot be a doubt that the method of 
inquiry which Mr. Darwin has adopted is not only 
rigorously in accordance with the canons of 
scientific logic, but that it is the only adequate 
method. Critics exclusively trained in classics or 
in mathematics, who have never determined a 
scientific fact in their lives by induction from 
experiment or observation, prate learnedly about 
Mr. Darwin's method, which is not inductive 
enough, not Baconian enough, forsooth, for them. 
But even if practical acquaintance with the process 
of scientific investigation is denied them, they may 
learn, by the perusal of Mr. Mill's admirable 
chapter " On the Deductive Method," that there 
are multitudes of scientific inquiries in which the 
method of pure induction helps the investigator 
but a very little way. 



n THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 73 

"The mode of investigation," says Mr. Mill, "which, from 
the proved inapplicability of direct methods of observation and 
experiment, remains to us as the main source of the knowledge 
we possess, or can acquire, respecting the conditions and laws of 
recurrence of the more complex phenomena, is called, in its 
most general expression, the deductive method, and consists of 
three operations : the first, one of direct induction ; the second, 
of ratiocination ; and the third, of verification." 

Now, the conditions which have determined the 
existence of species are not only exceedingly com- 
plex, but, so far as the great majority of them are 
concerned, are necessarily beyond our cognisance. 
But what Mr. Darwin has attempted to do is in 
exact accordance with the rule laid down by Mr. 
Mill ; he has endeavoured to determine certain 
great facts inductively, by observation and experi- 
ment ; he has then reasoned from the data thus 
furnished ; and lastly, he has tested the validity of 
his ratiocination by comparing his deductions with 
the observed facts of Nature. Inductively, Mr. 
Darwin endeavours to prove that species arise in 
a given way. Deductively, he desires to show 
that, if they arise in that way, the facts of distri- 
bution, development, classification, &c., may be 
accounted for, i.e. may be deduced from their mode 
of origin, combined with admitted changes in 
physical geography and climate, during an inde- 
finite period. And this explanation, or coinci- 
dence of observed with deduced facts, is, so far as 
it extends, a verification of the Darwinian view. 

There is no fault to be found with Mr. Darwin's 



74 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

method, then ; but it is another question whether 
he has fulfilled all the conditions imposed by that 
method. Is it satisfactorily proved, in fact, that 
species may be originated by selection ? that there 
is such a thing as natural selection ? that none 
of the phenomena exhibited by species are incon- 
sistent with the origin of species in this way ? If 
these questions can be answered in the affirmative, 
Mr. Darwin's view steps out of the rank of hypo- 
theses into those of proved theories ; but, so long 
as the evidence at present adduced falls short of 
enforcing that affirmation, so long, to our minds, 
must the new doctrine be content to remain among 
the former an extremely valuable, and in the 
highest degree probable, doctrine, indeed the only 
extant hypothesis which is worth anything in a 
scientific point of view ; but still a hypothesis, and 
not yet the theory of species. 

After much consideration, and with assuredly 
no bias against Mr. Darwin's views, it is our clear 
conviction that, as the evidence stands, it is not 
absolutely proven that a group of animals, having 
all the characters exhibited by species in Nature, 
has ever been originated by selection, whether 
artificial or natural. Groups having the morpho- 
logical character of species distinct and permanent 
races in fact have been so produced over and over 
again ; but there is no positive evidence, at present, 
that any group of animals has, by variation and 
selective breeding, given rise to another group 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 75 

which was, even in the least degree, infertile with 
the first. Mr. Darwin is perfectly aware of this 
weak point, and brings forward a multitude of 
ingenious and important arguments to diminish 
the force of the objection. We admit the value of 
these arguments to their fullest extent ; nay, we 
will go so far as to express our belief that experi- 
ments, conducted by a skilful physiologist, would very 
probably obtain the desired production of mutually 
more or less infertile breeds from a common stock, 
in a comparatively few years ; but still, as the case 
stands at present, this " little rift within the lute " 
is not to be disguised nor overlooked. 

In the remainder of Mr. Darwin's argument our 
own private ingenuity has not hitherto enabled us 
to pick holes of any great importance ; and judging 
by what we hear and read, other adventurers in 
the same field do not seem to have been much 
more fortunate. It has been urged, for instance, 
that in his chapters on the struggle for existence 
and on natural selection, Mr. Darwin does not so 
much prove that natural selection does occur, as 
that it must occur ; but, in fact, no other sort of 
demonstration is attainable. A race does not 
attract our attention in Nature until it has, in all 
probability, existed for a considerable time, and 
then it is too late to inquire into the conditions of 
its origin. Again, it is said that there is no real 
analogy between the selection which takes place 
under domestication, by human influence, and any 



76 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES II 

operation which can be effected by Nature, for man 
interferes intelligently. Reduced to its elements, 
this argument implies that an effect produced with 
trouble by an intelligent agent must, a fortiori, be 
more troublesome, if not impossible, to an unin- 
telligent agent. Even putting aside the question 
whether Nature, acting as she does according to 
definite and invariable laws, can be rightly called 
an unintelligent agent, such a position as this is 
wholly untenable. Mix salt and sand, and it shall 
puzzle the wisest of men, with his mere natural 
appliances, to separate all the grains of sand from 
all the grains of salt ; but a shower of rain will 
effect the same object in ten minutes. And so, 
while man may find it tax all his intelligence to 
separate any variety which arises, and to breed 
selectively from it, the destructive agencies inces- 
santly at work in Nature, if they find one variety 
to be more soluble in circumstances than the other, 
will inevitably, in the long run, eliminate it. 

A frequent and a just objection to the Lamarckian 
hypothesis of the transmutation of species is based 
upon the absence of transitional forms between 
many species. But against the Darwinian hypo- 
thesis this argument has no force. Indeed, one of 
the most valuable and suggestive parts of Mr. 
Darwin's work is that in which he proves, that 
the frequent absence of transitions is a necessary 
consequence of his doctrine, and that the stock 
whence two or more species have sprung, need in 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 77 

no respect be intermediate between these species. 
If any two species have arisen from a common 
stock in the same way as the carrier and the 
pouter, say, have arisen from the rock-pigeon, 
then the common stock of these two species need 
be no more intermediate between the two than 
the rock-pigeon is between the carrier and 
pouter. Clearly appreciate the force of this 
analogy, and all the arguments against the origin 
of species by selection, based on the absence of 
transitional forms, fall to the ground. And Mr. 
Darwin's position might, we think, have been 
even stronger than it is if he had not embarrassed 
himself with the aphorism, " Natura non facit 
saltum," which turns up so often in his pages. 
We believe, as we have said above, that Nature 
does make jumps now and then, and a recognition 
of the fact is of no small importance in disposing 
of many minor objections to the doctrine of trans- 
mutation. 

But we must pause. The discussion of Mr. 
Darwin's arguments in detail would lead us far 
beyond the limits within which we proposed, at 
starting, to confine this article. Our object has 
been attained if we have given an intelligible, 
however brief, account of the established facts 
connected with species, and of the relation of the 
explanation of those facts offered by Mr. Darwin to 
the theoretical views held by his predecessors and 
his contemporaries, and, above all, to the require- 



78 THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES n 

' ments of scientific logic. We have ventured to 
point out that it does not, as yet, satisfy all those 
requirements ; but we do not hesitate to assert 
that it is as superior to any preceding or con- 
temporary hypothesis, in the extent of observa- 
tional and experimental basis on which it rests, in 
its rigorously scientific method, and in its power of 
explaining biological phenomena, as was the 
hypothesis of Copernicus to the speculations of 
Ptolemy. But the planetary orbits turned out to 
be not quite circular after all, and, grand as was 
the service Copernicus rendered to science, Kepler 
and Newton had to come after him. What if the 
orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular ? 
What if species should offer residual phenomena, 
here and there, not explicable by natural selection ? 
Twenty years hence naturalists may be in a 
position to say whether this is, or is not, the case ; 
but in either event they will owe the author of 
" The Origin of Species " an immense debt of 
gratitude. We should leave a very wrong im- 
pression on the reader's mind if we permitted him 
to suppose that the value of that work depends 
wholly on the ultimate justification of the 
theoretical views which it contains. On the con- 
trary, if they were disproved to-morrow, the book 
would still .be the best of its kind the most 
compendious statement of well-sifted facts bearing 
on the doctrine of species that has ever appeared. 
The chapters on Variation, on the Struggle for 



II THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 79 

Existence, on Instinct, on Hybridism, on the Imper- 
fection of the Geological Record, on Geographical 
Distribution, have not only no equals, but, so far 
as our knowledge goes, no competitors, within the 
range of biological literature. And viewed as a 
whole,we do not believe that, since the publica- 
tion of Von Baer's " Researches on Development," 
thirty years ago, any work has appeared calculated 
to exert so large an influence, not only on the 
future of Biology, but in extending the domination 
of Science over regions of thought into which she 
has, as yet hardly penetrated. 



Ill 

CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF 
SPECIES" 

[1864] 

1. UEBEB DIE DARWIN'SCHE SCHOPFTTNGSTHEORIE ; BIN 

VORTRAG, VON A. KoLLiKER. Leipzig, 1864. 

2. EXAMINATION DU LIVRE DE M. DARWIN STIR L'ORIGINE 

DBS ESPECES. Par P. FLOURENS. Paris, 1864. 

IN the course of the present year several foreign 
commentaries upon Mr. Darwin's great work have 
made their appearance. Those who have perused 
that remarkable chapter of the " Antiquity of 
Man," in which Sir Charles Lyell draws a parallel 
between the development of species and that of 
languages, will be glad to hear that one of the 
most eminent philologers of Germany, Professor 
Schleicher, has, independently, published a most 
instructive and philosophical pamphlet (an ex- 
cellent notice of which is to be found in the 



HI CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 81 

Reader, for February 27th of this year) supporting 
similar views with all the weight of his special 
knowledge and established authority as a linguist. 
Professor Haeckel, to whom Schleicher addresses 
himself, previously took occasion, in his splendid 
monograph on the Radiolaria, 1 to express his high 
appreciation of, and general concordance with, Mr. 
Darwin's views. 

But the most elaborate criticisms of the " Origin 
of Species" which have appeared are two works of 
very widely different merit, the one by Professor 
Kolliker, the well-known anatomist and histolo- 
gist of Wiirzburg ; the other by M. Flourens, 
Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy of 
Sciences. 

Professor Kolliker's critical essay " Upon the 
Darwinian Theory " is, like all that proceeds from 
the pen of that thoughtful and accomplished 
writer, worthy of the most careful consideration. 
It comprises a brief but clear sketch of Darwin's 
views, followed by an enumeration of the leading 
difficulties in the way of their acceptance ; diffi- 
culties which would appear to be insurmountable 
to Professor Kolliker, inasmuch as he proposes to 
replace Mr. Darwin's Theory by one which he 
terms the " Theory of Heterogeneous Generation." 
We shall proceed to consider first the destructive, 
and secondly, the constructive portion of the 
essay. 

1 Die Radiolarien : eine Monographic, p. 231. 



82 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

We regret to find ourselves compelled to dissent 
very widely from many of Professor Kolliker's 
remarks; and from none more thoroughly than 
from those in which he seeks to define what 
we may term the philosophical position of Dar- 
winism. 

"Darwin," says Professor Kolliker, "is, in the fullest sense of 
the word, a Teleologist. He says quite distinctly (First Edition, 
pp. 199, 200) that every particular in the structure of an animal 
has been created for its benefit, and he regards the whole series 
of animal forms only from this point of view." 

And again : 

"7. The teleologieal general conception adopted by Darwin 
is a mistaken one. 

"Varieties arise irrespectively of the notion of purpose, or 
of utility, according to general laws of Nature, and may be 
either useful, or hurtful, or indifferent. 

" The assumption that an organism exists only on account of 
some definite end in view, and represents something more than 
the incorporation of a general idea, or law, implies'a one-sided 
conception of the universe. Assuredly, every organ has, and 
every organism fulfils, its end, but its purpose is not the condition 
of its existence. Every organism is also sufficiently perfect for 
the purpose it serves, and in that, at least, it is useless to seek 
for a cause of its improvement."- 

It is singular how differently one and the same 
book will impress different minds. That which 
struck the present writer most forcibly on his first 
perusal of the " Origin of Species " was the con- 
viction that Teleology, as commonly understood, 
had received its deathblow at Mr. Darwin's hands. 
For the teleologieal argument runs thus : an organ 



Ill CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 83 



or organism (A) j pnaujpdy fitted to perform a 

'function or purpose (B) ; therefore it was specially 
constructed to perform, that function. In Paley's 
famous illustration, the adaptation of all the parts 
of the watch to the function, or purpose, of showing 
the time, is held to be evidence that the watch 
was specially contrived to that end ; on the ground, 
that the only cause we know of, competent to 
produce such an effect as a watch which shall keep 
time, is a contriving intelligence adapting the 
means directly to that end. 

Suppose, however, that any one had been able 
to show that the watch had not been made directly 
by any person, but that it was the result of the 
modification of another watch which kept time but 
poorly ; and that this again had proceeded from a 
structure which could hardly be called a watch 
at all seeing that it had no figures on the dial 
and the hands were rudimentary ; and that going 
back and back in time we came at last to a re- 
volving barrel as the earliest traceable rudiment 
of the whole fabric. And imagine that it had 
been possible to show that all these changes 
had resulted, first, from a tendency of the structure 
to vary indefinitely ; and secondly, from something 
in the surrounding world which helped all variations 
in the direction of an accurate time-keeper, and 
checked all those in other directions ; then it is 
obvious that the force of Paley's argument would 
be gone. For it would be demonstrated that an 



84 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " in 

apparatus thoroughly well adapted to a particular 
purpose might be the result of a method of trial 
and error worked by unintelligent agents, as well 
as of the direct application of the means appro- 
priate to that end, by an intelligent agent. 

Now it appears to us that what we have here, 
for illustration's sake, supposed to be done with 
the watch, is exactly what the establishment of 
Darwin's Theory will do for the organic world. 
For the notion that every organism has been 
created as it is and launched straight at a purpose, 
Mr. Darwin substitutes the conception of some- 
thing which may fairly be termed a method of 
trial and error. Organisms vary incessantly ; of 
these variations the few meet with surrounding 
conditions which suit them and thrive ; the many 
are unsuited and become extinguished. 

According to Teleology, each organism is like a 
rifle bullet fired straight at a mark ; according to 
Darwin, organisms are like grapeshot of which one.. 
hits something and the rest fall wide. 

For the teleologist an organism exists because 
^t~was made tor the conditions in which it is found ; 
for the Darwinian an organism exists because, out 
of many of its kind, it is the only one which has 
been able to persist in the conditions in which it 
is found. 

Teleology implies that the organs of every 
organism are perfect and cannot be improved ; the 
Darwinian theory simply affirms that they work 



HI CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 85 

well enough to enable the organism to hold its 
own against such competitors as it has met with, 
but admits the possibility of indefinite improve- 
ment. But an example may bring into clearer 
light the profound opposition between the ordinary 
teleological, and the Darwinian, conception. 

Cats catch mice, small birds and the like, very 
well. Teleology tells us that they do so because 
they were expressly constructed for so doing that 
they are perfect mousing apparatuses, so perfect 
and so delicately adjusted that no one of their or- 
gans could be altered, without the change involving 
the alteration of all the rest. Darwinism affirms 
on the contrary, that there was no express con- 
struction concerned in the matter ; but that among 
the multitudinous variations of ^the Feline stock, 
many of which died out from want of power to 
resist opposing influences, some, the cats, wero 
better fitted to catch mice than others, whence 
they throve and persisted, in proportion to the 
advantage over their fellows thus offered to them. 

Far from imagining that cats exist in order to 
catch mice well, Darwinism supposes that cats exist 
because they catch mice well mousing being not 
the end, but the condition, of their existence. And 
if the cat type has long persisted as we know it, 
the interpretation of the fact upon Darwinian 
principles would be, not that the cats have re- 
mained invariable, but that such varieties as have 
incessantly occurred have been, on the whole, less 



86 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

fitted to get on in the world than the existing 
stock. 

If we apprehend the spirit of the " Origin of 
Species " rightly, then, nothing can be more en- 
tirely and absolutely opposed to Teleology, as it is 
commonly understood, than the Darwinian Theory. 
So far from being a " Teleologist in the fullest sense 
of the word," we should deny that he is a 
Teleologist in the ordinary sense at all; and we 
should say that, apart from his merits as a na- 
turalist, he has rendered a most remarkable service 
to philosophical thought by enabling the student 
of Nature to recognise, to their fullest extent, those 
adaptations to purpose which are so striking in the 
organic world, and which Teleology has done good 
service in keeping before our minds, without being 
false to the fundamental principles of a scientific 
conception of the universe. The apparently diverg- 
ing teachings of the Teleologist and of the Morpho- 
logist are reconciled by the Darwinian hypothesis. 

But leaving our own impressions of the " Origin 
of Species," and turning to those passages especially 
cited by Professor Kolliker, we cannot admit that 
they bear the interpretation he puts upon them. 
Darwin, if we read him rightly, does not affirm that 
every detail in the structure of an animal has been 
created for its benefit. His words are (p. 199) : 

" The foregoing remarks lead me to say a few words on the 
protest lately made by some naturalists against the utilitarian 
doctrine that every detail of structure has been produced for the 



HI CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 8? 

good of its possessor. They believe that very many structures 
have been created for beauty in the eyes of man, or for mere 
variety. This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my 
theory yet I fully admit that many structures are of no direct 
use to their possessor. " 

And after sundry illustrations and qualifications, 
he concludes (p. 200) : 

"Hence every detail of structure in every living creature 
(making some little allowance for the direct action of physical 
conditions) may be viewed either as having been of special use 
to some ancesti-al form, or as being now of special use to the 
descendants of this form either directly, or indirectly, through 
the complex laws of growth. " 

But it is one thing to say, Darwinically, that 
every detail observed in an animal's structure is 
of use to it, or has been of use to its ancestors ; 
and quite another to affirm, teleologically, that 
every detail of an animal's structure has been 
created for its benefit. On the former hypothesis, 
for example, the teeth of the foetal Balccna have a 
meaning ; on the latter, none. So far as we are 
aware, there is not a phrase in the " Origin of 
Species " inconsistent with Professor Kolliker's 
position, that " varieties arise irrespectively of the 
notion of purpose, or of utility, according to general 
laws of Nature, and may be either useful, or hurt- 
ful, or indifferent." 

On the contrary, Mr. Darwin writes (Summary 
of Chap. V.) : 

" Our ignorance of the laws of variation is profound. Not in 
one case out of a hundred can we pretend to assign any reason 
why this or that part varies more or less from the same part in 
35 



88 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

the parents. . . The external conditions of life, as climate and 
food, &c., seem to have induced some slight modifications. 
Habit, in producing constitutional differences, and use, in 
strengthening, and disuse, in weakening and diminishing organs, 
seem to have been more potent in their effects." 

And finally, as if to prevent all possible miscon- 
ception, Mr. Darwin concludes his Chapter on 
Variation with these pregnant words : 

' ' Whatever the cause may be of each slight difference in the 
offspring from their parents and a cause for each must exist 
it is the steady accumulation, through natural selection of such 
differences, when beneficial to the individual, that gives rise to 
all the more important modifications of structure, by which the 
innumerable beings on the face of the earth are enabled to 
struggle with each other, and the best adapted to survive." 

We have dwelt at length upon this subject, be- 
cause of its great general importance, and because 
we believe that Professor Kolliker' s criticisms on 
this head are based upon a misapprehension of Mr. 
Darwin's views substantially they appear to us 
to coincide with his own. The other objections 
which Professor Kolliker enumerates and discusses 
are the following : 1 

"1. No transitional forms between existing species are 
known ; and known varieties, whether selected or spontaneous, 
never go so far as to establish new species." 

To this Professor Kolliker appears to attach 
some weight. He makes the suggestion that the 

1 Space will not allow us to give Professor Kblliker's argu- 
ments in detail ; our readers will find a full and accurate version 
of thorn in the Header for August 13th and 20th, 1864, 



Ill CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 89 

short-faced tumbler pigeon may be a pathological 
product. 

"2. No transitional forms of animals are met with among the 
organic remains of earlier epochs. " 

Upon this, Professor Kolliker remarks that the 
absence of transitional forms in the fossil world, 
though not necessarily fatal to Darwin's views, 
weakens his case. 

"3. The struggle for existence does not take place." 
To this objection, urged by Pelzeln, Kolliker, 
very justly, attaches no weight. 

"4. A tendency of organisms to give rise to useful varieties, 
and a natural selection, do not exist. 

" The varieties which are found arise in consequence of 
manifold external influences, and it is not obvious why they all, 
or partially, should be particularly useful. Each animal suffices 
for its own ends, is perfect of its kind, and needs no further 
development. Should, however, a variety be useful and even 
maintain itself, there is no obvious reason why it should change 
any further. The whole conception of the imperfection of 
organisms and the necessity of their becoming perfected is 
plainly the weakest side of Darwin's Theory, and a pis oiler 
(Nothbehelf) because Darwin could think of no other principle 
by which to explain the metamorphoses which, as I also believe, 
have occurred." 

Here again we must venture to dissent com- 
pletely from Professor Kolliker' s conception of Mr. 
Darwin's hypothesis. It appears to us to be one 
of the many peculiar merits of that hypothesis that 
it involves no belief in a necessary and continual 
progress of organisms. 

Again, Mr. Darwin, if we read him aright, 



90 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

assumes no special tendency of organisms to give 
rise to useful varieties, and knows nothing of needs 
of development, or necessity of perfection. What 
he says is, in substance : All organisms vary. It 
is in the highest degree improbable that any given 
variety should have exactly the same relations to 
surrounding conditions as the parent stock. In 
that case it is either better fitted (when the varia- 
tion may be called useful), or worse fitted, to cope 
with them. If better, it will tend to supplant the 
parent stock ; if worse, it will tend to be extin- 
guished by the parent stock. 

If (as is hardly conceivable) the new variety is 
so perfectly adapted to the conditions that no 
improvement upon it is possible, it will persist, 
because, though it does not cease to vary, the 
varieties will be inferior to itself. 

If, as is more probable, the new variety is by no 
means perfectly adapted to its conditions, but only 
fairly well adapted to them, it will persist, so long 
as none of the varieties which it throws off are 
better adapted than itself. 

On the other hand, as soon as it varies in a 
useful way, i.e. when the variation is such as to 
adapt it more perfectly to its conditions, the fresh 
variety will tend to supplant the former. 

So far from a gradual progress towards perfection 
forming any necessary part of the Darwinian 
creed, it appears to us that it is perfectly consistent 
with indefinite persistence in one state, or with 



Ill CRITICISMS OX " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 91 

a gradual retrogression. Suppose, for example, a 
return of the glacial epoch and a spread of polar 
climatal conditions over the whole globe. The 
operation of natur-al selection under these circum- 
stances would tend, on the whole, to the weeding 
out of the higher organisms and the cherishing of 
the lower forms of life. Cryj)togamic vegetation 
would have the advantage over Phanerogamic ^ 
Hydrozoa over Corals ; Crustacea over Insecta, and 
Amphipoda and Isopoda over the higher Crustacea ; 
Cetaceans and Seals over the Primates; the 
civilisation of the Esquimaux over that of the 
European. 

" 5. Pelzeln has also objected that if the later organisms have 
proceeded from the earlier, the whole developmental series, from 
the simplest to the highest, could not now exist ; in such a case- 
the simpler organisms must have disappeared." 

To this Professor Kolliker replies, with perfect 
justice, that the conclusion drawn by Pelzeln does 
not really follow from Darwin's premises, and that, 
if we take the facts of Palaeontology as they 
stand, they rather support than oppose Darwin's 
theory. 

" 6. Great weight must be attached to the objection brought 
forward by Huxley, otherwise a warm supporter of Darwin's 
hypothesis, that we know of no varieties which are sterile with 
one another, as is the rule among sharply distinguished animal 
forms. 

" If Darwin is right, it must be demonstrated that forms may 
be produced by selection, which, like the present sharply dis- 
tinguished animal forms, are infertile, when coupled with one 
another, and this has not been done." 



92 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

The weight of this objection is obvious ; but our 
ignorance of the conditions of fertility and sterility, 
the want of carefully conducted experiments 
extending over long series of years, and the 
strange anomalies presented by the results of the 
cross-fertilisation of many plants, should all, as 
Mr. Darwin has urged, be taken into account in 
considering it. 

The seventh objection is that we have already 
discussed (supra p. 82). 

The eighth and last stands as follows : 

"8. The developmental theory of Darwin is not needed to 
enable us to understand the regular harmonious progress of the 
complete series of organic forms from the simpler to the more 
perfect. 

" The existence of general laws of Nature explains this 
harmony, even if we assume that all beings have arisen separately 
and independent of one another. Darwin forgets that inorganic 
nature, in which there can be no thought of genetic connexion 
of forms, exhibits the same regular plan, the same harmony, as 
the organic world ; and that, to cite only one example, there is 
as much a natural system of minerals as of plants and 
animals." 

We do not feel quite sure that we seize 
Professor Kolliker's meaning here, but he appears 
to suggest that the observation of the general order 
and harmony which pervade inorganic nature, 
would lead us to anticipate a similar order and 
harmony in the organic world. And this is no 
doubt true, but it by no means follows that the 
particular order and harmony observe'd among 
them should be that which we see. Surely the 



Ill CRITICISMS OX " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 93 

stripes of dun horses, and the teeth of the foetal 
Balccna, are not explained by the " existence of 
general laws of Nature." Mr. Darwin endeavours 
to explain the exact order of organic nature 
which exists; not the mere fact that there is 
some order. 

And with regard to the existence of a natural 
system of minerals ; the obvious reply is that 
there may be a natural classification of any 
objects of stones on a sea-beach, or of works of 
art; a natural classification being simply an 
assemblage of objects in groups, so as to express 
their most important and fundamental resem- 
blances and differences. No doubt Mr. Darwin 
believes that those resemblances and differences 
upon which our natural systems or classifications 
of animals and plants are based, are resemblances 
and differences which have been produced gene- 
tically, but we can discover no reason for suppos- 
ing that he denies the existence of natural classi- 
fications of other kinds. 

And, after all, is it quite so certain that a 
genetic relation may not underlie the classification 
of minerals ? The inorganic world has not always 
been what we see it. It has certainly had its 
metamorphoses, and, very probably, a long 
" Entwickelungsgeschichte " out of a nebular 
blastema. Who knows how far that amount of 
likeness among sets of minerals, in virtue of which 
they are now grouped into families and orders, 



94 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " in 

may not be the expression of the common condi- 
tions to which that particular patch of nebulous 
fog, which may have been constituted by their 
atoms, and of which they may be, in the strictest 
sense, the descendants, was subjected ? 

It will be obvious from what has preceded, that 
we do not agree with Professor Kolliker in think- 
ing the objections which he brings forward so 
weighty as to be fatal to Darwin's view. But even 
if the case were otherwise, we should be unable to 
accept the " Theory of Heterogeneous Generation " 
which is offered as a substitute. That theory is 
thus stated : 

"The fundamental conception of this hypothesis is, that, 
under the influence of a gener;il law of development, the germs 
of organisms produce others different from themselves. 
This might happen (1) by the fecundated ova passing, in the 
course of their development, under particular circumstances, into 
higher forms ; (2) by the primitive and later organisms produc- 
ing other organisms without fecundation, out of germs or eggs 
(Parthenogenesis)." 

In favour of this hypothesis, Professor Kolliker 
adduces the well-known facts of Agamogenesis, or 
" alternate generation " ; the extreme dissimilarity 
of the males and females of many animals ; and of 
the males, females, and neuters of those insects 
which live in colonies : and he defines its relations 
to the Darwinian theory as follows : 

" It is obvious that my hypothesis is apparently very similar 
to Darwin's, inasmuch as I also consider that the various forms 
of animals have proceeded directly from one another. My 
hypothesis of the creation of organisms by heterogeneous genera- 



in CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 95 

tion, however, is distinguished very essentially from Darwin's 
by the entire absence of the principle of useful variations and 
their natural selection : and my fundamental conception is this, 
that a great plan of development lies at the foundation of the 
origin of the whole organic world, impelling the simpler forms 
to more and more complex developments. How this law 
operates, what influences determine the development of the 
eggs and germs, and impel them to assume constantly new 
forms, I naturally cannot pretend to say ; but I can at least 
adduce the great analogy of the alternation of generations. If 
a Bipinnaria, a Brachiolnria, a Pluteus, is competent to produce 
the Echinoderm, which is so widely different from it ; if a 
hydroid polype can produce the higher Medusa ; if the vermiform 
Trematode 'nurse' can develop within itself the very unlike 
Cercaria, it will not appear impossible that the egg, or ciliated 
embryo, of a sponge, for once, under special conditions, might 
become a hydroid polype, or the embryo of a Medusa, an 
Echinoderm." 

It is obvious, from these extracts, that Pro- 
fessor Kolliker's hypothesis is based upon the 
supposed existence of a close analogy between the 
phsenomena of Agamogenesis and the production 
of new species from pre-existing ones. But is the 
analogy a real one ? We think that it is not, and, 
by the hypothesis cannot be, 

For what are the phaenomena of Agamogenesis, 
stated generally ? An impregnated egg develops 
into a sexless form, A ; this gives rise, non-sexually, 
to a second form or forms, B, more or less different 
from A. B may multiply non-sexually again ; in 
the simpler cases, however, it does not, but, acquir- 
ing sexual characters, produces impregnated eggs 
from whence A, once more, arises. 



96 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

No case of Agamogenesis is known in which 
when A differs widely from B, it is itself capable of 
sexual propagation. No case whatever is known 
in which the progeny of B, by sexual generation, 
is other than a reproduction of A. 

But if this be a true statement of the nature of 
the process of Agamogenesis, how can it enable us 
to comprehend the production of new species from 
already existing ones ? Let us suppose Hyagnas 
to have preceded Dogs, and to have produced the 
latter in this way. Then the Hyasna will represent 
A, and the Dog, B. The first difficulty that pre- 
sents itself is that the Hyasna must be non-sexual, 
or the process will be wholly without analogy in 
the world of Agamogenesis. But passing over this 
difficulty, and supposing a male and female Dog to 
be produced at the same time from the Hyaana 
stock, the progeny of the pair, if the analogy of 
the simpler kinds of Agamogenesis l is to be fol- 
lowed, should be a litter, not of puppies, but of 
young Hysenas. For the Agamogenetic series is 

1 If, on the contrary, we follow the analogy of the more com- 
plex forms of Agamogenesis, such as that exhibited by some 
Trematoda and by the Aphides, the Hyaena must produce, non- 
sexually, a brood of sexless Dogs, from which other sexless 
Dogs must proceed. At the end of a certain number of terms 
of the series, the Dogs would acquire sexes and generate young ; 
but these young would be, not Dogs, but Hyaenas In fact, we 
have demonstrated, in Agamogenetic phenomena, that inevitable 
recurrence to the original type, which is asserted to be true of 
variations in general, by Mr. Darwin's opponents; and which, 
if the assertion could be changed into a demonstration, would, 
ill fact, be fatal to his hypothesis. 



Ill CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 97 

always, as we have seen, A : B : A : B, &c. ; whereas, 
for the production of a new species, the series must 
be A : B : B : B, &c. The production of new species, 
or genera, is the extreme permanent divergence 
from the primitive stock. All known Agamo- 
genetic processes, on the other hand, end in a com- 
plete return to the primitive stock. How then is 
the production of new species to be rendered 
intelligible by the analogy of Agamogenesis ? 

The other alternative put by Professor Kolliker 
the passage of fecundated ova in the course of 
their development into higher forms would, if it 
occurred, be merely an extreme case of variation in 
the Darwinian sense, greater in degree than, but 
perfectly similar in kind to, that which occurred 
when the well-known Ancon Earn was developed 
from an ordinary Ewe's ovum. Indeed we have 
always thought that Mr. Darwin has unnecessarily 
hampered himself by adhering so strictly to his 
favourite " Natura non facit saltum." We greatly 
suspect that she does make considerable jumps in 
the way of variation now and then, and that these 
saltations give rise to some of the gaps which ap- 
pear to exist in the series of known forms. 

Strongly and freely as we have ventured to 
disagree with Professor Kolliker, we have always 
done so with regret, and we trust without violating 
that respect which is due, not only to his scientific 
eminence and to the careful study which he has 



98 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

devoted to the subject, but to the perfect fairness 
of his argumentation, and the generous appreciation 
of the worth of Mr. Darwin's labours which he 
always displays. It would be satisfactory to be 
able to say as much for M. Flourens. 

But the Perpetual Secretary of the French 
Academy of Sciences deals with Mr. Darwin as the 
first Napoleon would have treated an " ideologue ; " 
and while displaying a painful weakness of logic 
and shallowness of information, assumes a tone of 
authority, which always touches upon the ludicrous, 
and sometimes passes the limits of good breeding. 

For example (p. 56) : 

"M. Darwin continue : ' Aucune distinction absolue n'a ete 
et ne peut etre etablie entre les especes et les varietes.' Je vous 
ai deja dit que vous vous trompiez ; une distinction absolue 
separe les varietes d'avec les especes." 

" Je vous ai ddjd dit ; moi, M. le Secretaire per- 
pe"tuel de TAcademie des Sciences : et vous 

" 'Qui n'etes rien, 

Pas meme Academicien ; ' 

what do you mean by asserting the contrary ? " 
Being devoid of the blessings of an Academy in 
England, we are unaccustomed to see our ablest 
men treated in this fashion, even by a " Perpetual 
Secretary." 

Or again, considering that if there is any one 
quality of Mr. Darwin's work to which friends and 
foes have alike borne witness, it is his candour and 



Ill CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 99 

fairness in admitting and discussing objections, 
what is to be thought of M. Flourens' assertion, 
that 

' ' M. Darwin ne cite que les auteurs qui partagent ses 
opinions." (P. 40.) 

Once more (p. 65) : 

' ' Enfin 1'ouvrage de M. Darwin a para. On nc peut qu'etre 
frappe du talent de 1'auteur. Mais que d'idees obscures, que 
d'idees fausses ! Quel jargon metaphysique jete mal a propos 
dans 1'histoire naturelle, qui tombe dans le galimatias desqu'elle 
sort des idees claires, des idees justes ! Quel langage pretentieux 
et vide ! Quelles personnifications pueriles et surannees ! O 
lucidite ! O solidite de 1' esprit Francais, que devenez-vous ? " 

" Obscure ideas," " metaphysical jargon," " pre- 
tentious and empty language," " puerile and 
superannuated personifications." Mr. Darwin has 
many and hot > opponents on this side of the 
Channel and in Germany, but we do not recollect 
to have found precisely these sins in the long 
catalogue of those hitherto laid to his charge. It 
is worth while, therefore, to examine into these 
discoveries effected solely by the aid of the 
"lucidity and solidity" of the mind of M. 
Flourens. 

According to M. Flourens, Mr. Darwin's great 
error is that he has personified Nature (p. 10), 
and further that he has 

" imagined a natural selection : he imagines afterwards that 
tliis power of selecting (pouwird'ilire] which he gives to Nature 
is similar to the power of man. These two suppositions ad- 



100 CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

mitted, nothing stops him : he plays with Nature as he likes, 
and makes her do all he pleases. " (P. 6. ) 

And this is the way M. Flourens extinguishes 
natural selection : 

"Voyonsdonc encore une fois, ce qu'il peut y avoir de fonde 
dans ce qu'on nomme Election naturelle. 

' ' L 'election naturelle n'est sous un autre nom que la nature. 
Pour un etfe organise, la nature n'est que 1'organisation, ni plus 
ni moins. 

"II faudra done aussi personnifier 1'organisation, et dire que 
T organisation choisit I 'organisation. L' election naturelle est 
cette forme substantial? dont on jouait autrefois avec tant de 
facilite. Aristote disait que 'Si 1'art de batir etait dans lebois, 
cet art agirait comme la nature.' A la place de I' art de bdtir 
M. Darwin met Selection naturelle, et c'est tout un : 1'un n'est 
pas plus chimerique que 1'autre." (P. 31.) 

And this is really all that M. Flourens can make 
of Natural Selection. We have given the original, 
in fear lest a translation should be regarded as a 
travesty ; but with the original before the reader, 
we may try to analyse the passage. " For an 
organised being, Nature is only organisation, 
neither more nor less." 

Organised beings then have absolutely no 
relation to inorganic nature : a plant does not 
depend on soil or sunshine, climate, depth in the 
ocean, height above it; the quantity of saline 
matters in water have no influence upon animal 
life ; the substitution of carbonic acid for oxygen 
in our atmosphere would hurt nobody ! That 
these are absurdities no one should know better 



HI CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 101 

than M. Flourens; but they are logical deductions 
from the assertion just quoted, and from the 
further statement that natural selection means 
only that " organisation chooses and selects 
organisation." 

For if it be once admitted (what no sane man 
denies) that the chances of life of any given 
organism are increased by certain conditions (A) 
and diminished by their opposites (B), then it is 
mathematically certain that any change of con- 
ditions in the direction of (A) will exercise a 
selective influence in favour of that organism, 
tending to its increase and multiplication, while 
any change in the direction of (B) will exercise a 
selective influence against that organism, tending 
to its decrease and extinction. 

Or, on the other hand, conditions remaining the 
same, let a given organism vary (and no one 
doubts that they do vary) in two directions : into 
one form (a) better fitted to cope with these con- 
ditions than the original stock, and a second (b~) 
less well adapted to them. Then it is no less certain 
that the conditions in question must exercise a 
selective influence in favour of (a) and against (6), 
so that (a) will tend to predominance, and (&) to 
extirpation. 

That M. Flourens should be unable to perceive 
the logical necessity of these simple arguments, 
which lie at the foundation of all Mr. Darwin's 
reasoning ; that he should confound an irrefragable 



102 CRITICISMS ON "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES" m 

deduction from the observed relations of organisms 
to the conditions which lie around them, with a 
metaphysical " forme substantielle," or a chimerical 
personification of the powers of Nature, would be 
incredible, were it not that other passages of his 
work leave no room for doubt upon the subject. 

" On. imagine une Election naturelle que, pour plus de menage- 
ment, on me (lit etre inconseicnte, sans s'apercevoir que le contre- 
sens litteral est precisement la : election inconsciente." (P. 52.) 

" J'ai deja dit ce qu'il faut penser de I' Election naturelle. Ou 
lelection naturelle n'est rien, ou c'est la nature : mais la nature 
douee Selection, mais la nature personnifiee : derniere erreur du 
dernier siecle : Le xix e ne fait plus de personnifications." (P. 
53.) 

M. Flourens cannot imagine an unconscious 
selection it is for him a contradiction in terms. 
Did M. Flourens ever visit one of the prettiest 
watering-places of " la belle France," the Baie 
d'Arcachon ? If so, he will probably have passed 
through the district of the Landes, and will have 
had an opportunity of observing the formation of 
" dunes " on a grand scale. What are these 
" dunes " ? The winds and waves of the Bay of 
Biscay have not much consciousness, and yet they 
have with great care " selected," from among an 
infinity of masses of silex of all shapes and sizes, 
which have been submitted to their action, all the 
grains of sand below a certain size, and have 
heaped them by themselves over a great area. 
This sand has been " unconsciously selected " from 



Ill CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 103 

amidst the gravel in which it first lay with as 
much precision as if man had "consciously 
selected" it by the aid of a sieve. Physical 
Geology is full of such selections of the picking 
out of the soft from the hard, of the soluble from 
the insoluble, of the fusible from the infusible, by 
natural agencies to which we are certainly not in 
the habit of ascribing consciousness. 

But that which wind and sea are to a sandy 
beach, the sum of influences, which we term the 
" conditions of existence," is to living organisms. 
The weak are sifted out from the strong. A frosty 
night " selects " the hardy plants in a plantation 
from among the tender ones as effectually as if it 
were the wind, and they, the sand and pebbles, of 
our illustration ; or, on the other hand, as if the 
intelligence of a gardener had been operative in 
cutting the weaker organisms down. The thistle, 
which has spread over the Pampas, to the de- 
struction of native plants, has been more effectually 
" selected " by the unconscious operation of natural 
conditions than if a thousand agriculturists had 
spent their time in sowing it. 

It is one of Mr. Darwin's many great services 
to Biological science that he has demonstrated the 
significance of these facts. He has shown that 
given variation and given change of conditions 
the inevitable result is the exercise of such an 
influence upon organisms that one is helped and 
another is impeded ; one tends to predominate, 

36 



104 CRITICISMS ON "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES" m 

another to disappear ; and thus the living world 
bears within itself, and is surrounded by, impulses 
towards incessant change. 

But the truths just stated are as certain as any 
other physical laws, quite independently of the 
truth, or falsehood, of the hypothesis which Mr. 
Darwin has based upon them; and that M. 
Flourens, missing the substance and grasping at a 
shadow, should be blind to the admirable exposi- 
tion of them, which Mr. Darwin has given, and see 
nothing there but a "derniere erreur du dernier 
siecle " a personification of Nature leads us 
indeed to cry with him : " O lucidite ! O solidite 
de 1'esprit FranQais, que devenez-vous ? " 

M. Flourens has, in fact, utterly failed to com- 
prehend the first principles of the doctrine which 
he assails so rudely. His objections to details are 
of the old sort, so battered and hackneyed on this 
side of the Channel, that not even a Quarterly 
Reviewer could be induced to pick them up for 
the purpose of pelting Mr. Darwin over again. 
We have Cuvier and the mummies ; M. Roulin 
and the domesticated animals of America; the 
difficulties presented by hybridism and by Palaeon- 
tology; Darwinism a rifacciamcnto of De Maillet 
and Lamarck ; Darwinism a system without a 
commencement, and its author bound to believe in 
M. Pouchet, &c. &c. How one knows it all by 
heart, and with what relief one reads at p. 65 
" Je laisse M. Darwin 1 " 



Ill CRITICISMS ON " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 105 

But we cannot leave M. Flourens without calling 
our readers' attention to his wonderful tenth 
chapter, " De la Preexistence des Germes et de 
1'Epigenese," which opens thus : 

" Spontaneous generation is only a chimaera. This point 
established, two hypotheses remain : that of pre-existence and 
that of epigcncsis. The one of these hypotheses has as little 
foundation as the other. " (P. 163.) 

' ' The doctrine of epigenesis is derived from Harvey : follow- 
ing by ocular inspection the development of the new being in 
the Windsor does, he saw each part appear successively, and 
taking the moment of appearance for the moment of formation 
he imagined epigenesis." (P. 165.) 

On the contrary, says M. Flourens (p. 167),- 

" The new being is formed at a stroke (lout d'un coup), as a 
whole, instantaneously ; it is not formed part by part, and at 
different times. It is formed at once at the single individual 
moment at which the conjunction of the male and female 
elements takes place." 

It will be observed that M. Flourens uses 
language which cannot be mistaken. For him, 
the labours of Von Baer, of Rathke, of Coste, and 
their contemporaries and successors in Germany, 
France, and England, are non-existent : and, as 
Darwin " imagina " natural selection, so Harvey 
"imagina" that doctrine which gives him an even 
greater claim to the veneration of posterity than 
his better known discovery of the circulation of 
the blood. 

Language such as that we have quoted is, ill 
fact, so preposterous, so utterly incompatible with 



106 CRITICISMS ON "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " m 

anything but absolute ignorance of some of the 
best established facts, that we should have passed 
it over in silence had it not appeared to afford 
some clue to M. Flourens' unhesitating, a priori, 
repudiation of all forms of the doctrine of pro- 
gressive modification of living beings. He whose 
mind remains uninfluenced by an acquaintance 
with the phsenomena of development, must indeed 
lack one of the chief motives towards the 
endeavour to trace a genetic relation between 
the different existing forms of life. Those who 
are ignorant of Geology, find no difficulty in 
believing that the world was made as it is ; and 
the shepherd, untutored in history, sees no reason 
to regard the green mounds which indicate the 
site of a Roman camp, as aught but part and 
parcel of the primaeval hill -side. So M. Flourens, 
who believes that embryos are formed " tout d'un 
coup," naturally finds no difficulty in conceiving 
that species came into existence in the same 
way. 



IV 

THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS 1 

[1869] 

CONSIDERING that Germany now takes the lead of 
the world in scientific investigation, and particu- 
larly in biology, Mr. Darwin must be well pleased 
at the rapid spread of his views among some of 
the ablest and most laborious of German 
naturalists. 

Among these, Professor Haeckel, of Jena, is the 
Coryphaeus. I know of no more solid and import- 
ant contributions to biology in the past seven 
years than Haeckel's work on the " Radiolaria," 
and the researches of his distinguished colleague 
Gegenbaur, in vertebrate anatomy; while in 
Haeckel's " Generelle Morphologic " there is all 
the force, suggestiveness, and, what I may term 

1 TM Natural History of Creation. By Dr. Ernst Haeckel. 
[Naturliche Schiipfungs-Gcschichtc.Von Dr. Ernst Haeckel, 
Professor an der Universitat Jena.] Berlin, 1868. 



108 THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS iv 

the systematising power, of Oken, without his ex- 
travagance. The " Generelle Morphologic " is, in 
fact, an attempt to put the Doctrine of Evolution, 
so far as it applies to the living world, into a logical 
form ; and to work out its practical applications to 
their final results. The work before us, again, may 
be said to be an exposition of the "Generelle 
Morphologic " for an educated public, consisting, 
as it does, of the substance of a series of lectures 
delivered before a mixed audience at Jena, in the 
session 1867-8. 

" The Natural History of Creation," or, as 
Professor Haeckel admits it would have been 
better to call his work, "The History of the 
Development or Evolution of Nature," deals, in 
the first six lectures, with the general and his- 
torical aspects of the question and contains a very 
interesting and lucid account of the views of Lin- 
naeus, Cuvier, Agassiz, Goethe, Oken, Kant, 
Lamarck, Lyell, and Darwin, and of the historical 
filiation of these philosophers. 

The next six lectures are occupied by a well- 
digested statement of Mr. Darwin's views. The 
thirteenth lecture discusses two topics which are 
not touched by Mr. Darwin, namely, the origin of 
the present form of the solar system, and that of 
living matter. Full justice is done to Kant, as the 
originator of that " cosmic gas theory," as the 
Germans somewhat quaintly call it, which is 
commonly ascribed to Laplace. With respect to 



IV THE GENEALOGY OP ANIMALS 109 

spontaneous generation, while admitting that there 
is no experimental evidence in its favour, Professor 
Haeckel denies the possibility of disproving it, and 
points out- that the assumption that it has occurred 
is a necessary part of the doctrine of Evolution. 
The fourteenth lecture, on " Schopfungs-Perioden 
und Schopfungs-Urkunden," answers pretty much 
to the famous disquisition on the " Imperfection 
of the Geological Record " in the " Origin of 
Species." 

The following five lectures contain the most 
original matter of any, being devoted to " Phylo- 
geny," or the working out of the details of the 
process of Evolution in the animal and vegetable 
kingdoms, so as to prove the line of descent of 
each group of living beings, and to furnish it 
with its proper genealogical tree, or " phylum." 

The last lecture considers objections and sums 
up the evidence in favour of biological Evolution. 

I shall best testify to my sense of the value of 
the work thus briefly analysed if I now proceed to 
note down some of the more important criticisms 
which have been suggested to me by its perusal. 

I. In more than one place, Professor Haeckel 
enlarges upon the service which the " Origin of 
Species " has done, in favouring what he terms 
the " causal or mechanical " view of living nature 
as opposed to the " teleological or vitalistic " view. 
And no doubt it is quite true that the doctrine of 
Evolution is the most formidable opponent of all 



110 THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS IT 

the commoner and coarser forms of Teleology. 
But perhaps the most remarkable service to the 
philosophy of Biology rendered by Mr. Darwin is 
the reconciliation of Teleology and Morphology, 
and the explanation of the facts of both which his 
views offer. 

The Teleology which supposes that the eye, 
such as we see it in man or one of the higher Verte- 
Irata, was made with the precise structure which 
it exhibits, for the purpose of enabling the animal 
which possesses it to see, has undoubtedly received 
its death-blow. Nevertheless it is necessary to 
remember that there is a wider Teleology, which 
is not touched by the doctrine of Evolution, but is 
actually based upon the fundamental proposition 
of Evolution. That proposition is, that the whole 
world, living and not living, in the result of the 
mutual interaction, according to definite laws, of 
the forces possessed by the molecules of which the 
primitive nebulosity of the universe was composed. 
If this be true, it is no less certain that the existing 
world lay, potentially, in the cosmic vapour ; and 
that a sufficient intelligence could, from a know- 
ledge of the properties of the molecules of that 
vapour, have predicted, say the state of the Fauna 
of Britain in 1869, with as much certainty as one 
can say what will happen to the vapour of the 
breath in a cold winter's day. 

Consider a kitchen clock, which ticks loudly, 
shows the hours, minutes, and seconds, strikes, 



IV THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS 111 

cries " cuckoo ! " and perhaps shows the phases of 
the moon. When the clock is wound up, all the 
phenomena which it exhibits are potentially con- 
tained in its mechanism, and a clever clockmaker 
could predict all it will do after an examination of 
its structure. 

If the evolution theory is correct, the mole- 
cular structure of the cosmic gas stands in 
the same relation to the phenomena of the 
world as the structure of the clock to its pheno- 
mena. 

Now let us suppose a death-watch, living in the 
clock-case, to be a learned and intelligent student 
of its works. He might say, " I find here nothing 
but matter and force and pure mechanism from 
beginning to end," and he would be quite right. 
But if he drew the conclusion that the clock was 
not contrived for a purpose, he would be quite 
wrong. On the other hand, imagine another 
death-watch of a different turn of mind. He, 
listening to the monotonous " tick ! tick ! " so 
exactly like his own, might arrive at the conclusion 
that the clock was itself a monstrous sort of 
death-watch, and that its final cause and purpose 
was to tick. How easy to point to the clear 
relation of the whole mechanism to the pendulum, 
to the fact that the one thing the clock did always 
and without intermission was to tick, and that all 
the rest of its phenomena were intermittent and 
subordinate to ticking ! For all this, it is certain 



112 THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS iv 

that kitchen clocks are not contrived for the 
purpose of making a ticking noise. 

Thus the teleological theorist would be as wrong 
as the mechanical theorist, among our death- 
watches; and, probably, the only death-watch who 
would be right would be the one who should 
maintain that the sole thing death-watches could 
be sure about was the nature of the clock-works 
and the way they move ; and that the purpose of 
the clock lay wholly beyond the purview of beetle 
faculties. 

Substitute " cosmic vapour " for " clock," and 
" molecules " for " works," and the application 
of the argument is obvious. The teleological 
and the mechanical views of nature are not, 
necessarily, mutually exclusive. On the contrary, 
the more purely a mechanist the speculator is, the 
more firmly does he assume a primordial mo- 
lecular arrangement, of which all the phenomena 
of the universe are the consequences ; and 
the more completely is he thereby at the 
mercy of the teleologist, who can always defy 
him to disprove that this primordial molecular 
arrangement was not intended to evolve 
the phenomena of the universe. On the other 
hand, if the teleologist assert that this, that, or 
the other result of the working of any part of the 
mechanism of the universe is its purpose and final 
cause, the mechanist can always inquire how he 
knows that it is more than an unessential incident 



!V THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS 113 

the mere ticking of the clock, which he mistakes 
for its function. And there seems to be no reply 
to this inquiry, any more than to the further, not 
irrational, question, why trouble one's self about 
matters which are out of reach, when the working 
of the mechanism itself, which is of infinite 
practical importance, affords scope for all our 
energies ? 

Professor Haeckel has invented a new and con- 
venient name " Dysteleology," for the study of 
the " purposelessnesses " which are observable in 
living organisms such as the multitudinous cases 
of rudimentary and apparently useless structures. 
I confess, however, that it has often appeared to 
me that the facts of Dysteleology cut two ways. 
If we are to assume, as evolutionists in general do, 
that useless organs atrophy, such cases as the 
existence of lateral rudiments of toes, in the foot 
of a horse, place us in a dilemma. For, either 
these rudiments are of no use to the animal, in 
which case, considering that the horse has existed 
in its present form since the Pliocene epoch, they 
surely ought to have disappeared ; or they are of 
some use to the animal, in which case they are of 
no use as arguments against Teleology. A similar, 
but still stronger, argument may be based upon 
the existence of teats, and even functional mam- 
mary glands, in male mammals. Numerous cases 
of " Gynaecomasty," or functionally active breasts 
in men, are on record, though there is no mam- 



114 THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS iv 

malian species whatever in which the male nor- 
mally suckles the young. Thus, there can be 
little doubt that the mammary gland was as 
apparently useless in the remotest male mam- 
malian ancestor of man as in living men, and yet 
it has not disappeared. Is it then still profitable 
to the male organism to retain it ? Possibly ; but 
in that case its dysteleological value is gone. 1 

II. Professor Haeckel looks upon the causes 
which have led to the present diversity of living 
nature as twofold. Living matter, he tells us, is 
urged by two impulses : a centripetal, which tends 
to preserve and transmit the specific form, and 
which he identifies with heredity ; and a centri- 
fugal, which results from the tendency of external 
conditions to modify the organism and effect its 
adaptation to themselves. The internal impulse 
is conservative, and tends to the preservation of 
specific, or individual, form ; the external impulse 
is metamorphic, and tends to the modification of 
specific, or individual, fcfrm. 

In developing his views upon this subject, 
Professor Haeckel introduces qualifications which 
disarm some of the criticisms I should have been 
disposed to offer ; but I think that his method of 
stating the case has the inconvenience of tending 
to leave out of sight the important fact which is 
a cardinal point in the Darwinian hypothesis 

1 [The recent discovery of the important part played by the 
Thyroid gland should be a warning to all speculators about 
useless organs. 1893.] 



IV THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS 115 

that the tendency to vary, in a given organism, may 
have nothing to do with the external conditions to 
which that individual organism is exposed, but 
may depend wholly upon internal conditions. No 
one, I imagine, would dream of seeking for the 
cause of the development of the sixth finger and 
toe in the famous Maltese, in the direct influence 
of the external conditions of his life. 

I conceive that both hereditary transmission 
and adaptation need to be analysed into their 
constituent conditions by the further application 
of the doctrine of the Struggle for Existence. It 
is a probable hypothesis, that what the world is to 
organisms in general, each organism is to the 
molecules of which it is composed. Multitudes of 
these, having diverse tendencies, are competing 
with one another for opportunity to exist and 
multiply ; and the organism, as a whole, is as 
much the product of the molecules which are 
victorious as the Fauna, or Flora, of a country is 
the product of the victoridus organic beings in it. 

On this hypothesis, hereditary transmission is 
the result of the victory of particular molecules 
contained in the impregnated germ. Adaptation 
to conditions is the result of the favouring of the 
multiplication of those molecules whose organising 
tendencies are most in harmony with such 
conditions. In this view of the matter, conditions 
are not actively productive, but are passively 
permissive ; they do not cause variation in any 



116 THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS iv 

given direction, but they permit and favour a 
tendency in that direction which already exists. 

It is true that, in the long run, the origin of 
the organic molecules themselves, and of their 
tendencies, is to be sought in the external world ; 
but if we carry our inquiries as far back as this, 
the distinction between internal and external 
impulses vanishes. On the other hand, if we 
confine ourselves to the consideration of a single 
organism, I think it must be admitted that the 
existence of an internal metamorphic tendency 
must be as distinctly recognised as that of an 
internal conservative tendency ; and that the 
influence of conditions is mainly, if not wholly, 
the result of the extent to which they favour the 
one, or the other, of these tendencies. 

III. There is only one point upon which I 
fundamentally and entirely disagree with Professor 
Haeckel, but that is the very important one of 
his conception of geological time, and of the 
meaning of the stratified rocks as records and 
indications of that time. Conceiving that the 
stratified rocks of an epoch indicate a period of 
depression, and that the intervals between the 
epochs correspond with periods of elevation of 
which we have no record, he intercalates between 
the different epochs, or periods, intervals which he 
terms "Ante-periods." Thus, instead of con- 
sidering the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and 
Eocene periods, as continuously successive, he 



IV THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS 117 

interposes a period before each, as an " Antetrias- 
zeit," "Antejura-zeit," " Antecreta-zeit," "Anteo- 
cenzeit," &c. And he conceives that the abrupt 
changes between the Faunae of the different forma- 
tions are due to the lapse of time, of which we have 
no organic record, during their "Ante-periods." 

The frequent occurrence of strata containing 
assemblages of organic forms which are inter- 
mediate between those of adjacent formations, is, 
to my mind, fatal to this view. In the well- 
known St. Cassian beds, for example, Palaeozoic 
and Mesozoic forms are commingled, and, between 
the Cretaceous and the Eocene formations, there 
are similar transitional beds. On the other hand, 
in the middle of the Silurian series, extensive 
unconformity of the strata indicates the lapse of 
vast intervals of time between the deposit of 
successive beds, without any corresponding change 
in the Fauna. 

Professor Haeckel will, I fear, think me unreason- 
able, if I say that he seems to be still overshadowed 
by geological superstitions ; and that he will have 
to believe in the completeness of the geological 
record far less than he does at present. He assumes, 
for example, that there was no dry land, nor any 
terrestrial life, before the end of the Silurian epoch, 
simply because, up to the present time, no indica- 
tions of fresh water, or terrestrial organisms, have 
been found in rocks of older date. And, in 
speculating upon the origin of a given group, he 



118 THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS iv 

rarely goes further back than the " Ante-period," 
which precedes that in which the remains of 
animals belonging to that group are found. Thus, 
as fossil remains of the majority of the groups of 
Eeptilia are first found in the Trias, they are 
assumed to have originated in the "Antetriassic " 
period, or between the Permian and Triassic 
epochs. 

I confess this is wholly incredible to me. The 
Permian and the Triassic deposits pass completely 
into one another ; there is no sort of discontinuity 
answering to an unrecorded " Antetrias " ; and, 
what is more, we have evidence of immensely 
extensive dry land during the formation of these 
deposits. We know that the dry land of the Trias 
absolutely teemed with reptiles of all groups 
except Pterodactyles, Snakes, and perhaps Tor- 
toises ; there is every probability that true Birds 
existed, and Mammalia certainly did. Of the in- 
habitants of the Permian dry land, on the contrary, 
all that have left a record are a few lizards. Is it 
conceivable that these last should really represent 
the whole terrestrial population of that time, and 
that the development of Mammals, of Birds, and 
of the highest forms of Reptiles, should have been 
crowded into the time during which the Permian 
conditions quietly passed away, and the Triassic 
conditions began ? Does not any such supposition 
become in the highest degree improbable, when, 
in the terrestrial or fresh- water Labyrinthodonts, 



IV THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS 119 

which lived on the land of the Carboniferous epoch, 
as well as on that of the Trias, we have evidence 
that one form of terrestrial life persisted, through- 
out all these ages, with no important modification ? 
For my part, having regard to the small amount 
of modification (except in the way of extinction) 
which the Crocodilian, Lacertilian, and Chelonian 
Reptilia have undergone, from the older Mesozoic 
times to the present day, I cannot but put the 
existence of the common stock from which they 
sprang far back in the Palaeozoic epoch ; and I 
should apply a similar argumentation to all other 
groups of animals. 

[The remainder of this essay contains a discussion of questions 
of taxonomy and phylogeny, which is now antiquated. I have 
reprinted the considerations about the reconciliation of Teleology 
with Morphology, about " Dysteleology," and about the struggle 
for existence within the organism, because it has happened to 
me to be charged with overlooking them. 

In discussing Teleology, I ought to have pointed out, as I 
have done elsewhere ( Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. ii. 
p. 202), that Paley " proleptically accepted the modern doctrine 
of Evolution," (Natural Theology, chap, xxiii.). 1893.] 



MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 1 

[1871] 

THE gradual lapse of time has now separated us by 
more than a decade from the date of the publi- 
cation of the " Origin of Species " and whatever 
may be thought or said about Mr. Darwin's doc- 
trines, or the manner in which he has propounded 
them, this much is certain, that, in a dozen years, 
the " Origin of Species " has worked as complete a 
revolution in biological science as the " Principia " 
did in astronomy and it has done so, because, in 
the words of Helmholtz, it contains " an essentially 
new creative thought." 2 

And as time has slipped by, a happy change 

1 1. Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. By 
A. R. Wallace. 1870. 2. The Genesis of Species. By St. George 
Mivart, F.R.S. Second Edition. 1871. 3. Darwin's Descent 
of Man. Quarterly Review, July 1871. 

2 Helmholtz : Ucber das Ziel und die Fortschritte der Natur- 
wissenschaft. Eroffnungsrede fur die Naturforscherversauim- 
lung zu Innsbruck. 1869. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 121 

has come over Mr. Darwin's critics. The mixture 
of ignorance and insolence which, at first, character- 
ised a large proportion of the attacks with which 
he was assailed, is no longer the sad distinction of 
anti-Darwinian criticism. Instead of abusive non- 
sense, which merely discredited its writers, we read 
essays, which are, at worst, more or less intelligent 
and appreciative ; while, sometimes, like that 
which appeared in the " North British Review " for 
1867, they have a real and permanent value. 

The several publications of Mr. Wallace and Mr. 
Mivart contain discussions of some of Mr. Darwin's 
views, which are worthy of particular attention, not 
only on account of the acknowledged scientific 
competence of .these writers, but because they ex- 
hibit an attention to those philosophical questions 
which underlie all physical science, which is as rare 
as it is needful. And the same may be said of an 
article in the " Quarterly Review " for July 1871, 
the comparison of which with an article in the 
same Review for July 1860, is perhaps the best 
evidence which can be brought forward of the 
change which has taken place in public opinion 
on " Darwinism." 

The Quarterly Reviewer admits "the certainty 
of the action of natural selection " (p. 49) ; and 
further allows that there is an a priori probability 
in favour of the evolution of man from some lower 
animal form, if these lower animal forms them- 
selves have arisen by evolution. 



122 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

Mr. Wallace and Mr. Mivart go much further 
than this. They are as stout believers in evolution 
as Mr. Darwin himself; but Mr. Wallace denies 
that man can have been evolved from a lower 
animal by that process of natural selection which 
he, with Mr. Darwin, holds to have been sufficient 
for the evolution of all animals below man ; while 
Mr. Mivart, admitting that natural selection has 
been one of the conditions of the evolution of the 
animals below man, maintains that natural se- 
lection must, even in their case, have been supple- 
mented by " some other cause " of the nature of 
which, unfortunately, he does not give us any idea. 
Thus Mr. Mivart is less of a Darwinian than Mr. 
Wallace, for he has less faith in the power of 
natural selection. But he is more of an evolutionist 
than Mr. Wallace, because Mr. Wallace thinks it 
necessary to call in an intelligent agent a sort of 
supernatural Sir John Sebright to produce even 
the animal frame of man ; while Mr. Mivart re- 
quires no Divine assistance till he comes to man's 
soul. 

Thus there is a considerable divergence between 
Mr. Wallace and Mr. Mivart. On the other hand, 
there are some curious similarities between Mr. 
Mivart and the Quarterly Reviewer, and these 
are sometimes so close, that, if Mr. Mivart thought 
it worth while, I think he might make out a 
good case of plagiarism against the Reviewer, who 
studiously abstains from quoting him. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 123 

Both the Reviewer and Mr. Mivart reproach Mr. 
Darwin with being, " like so many other physic- 
ists," entangled in a radically false metaphysical 
system, and with setting at nought the first 
principles of both philosophy and religion. Both 
enlarge upon the necessity of a sound philo- 
sophical basis, and both, I venture to add, make a 
conspicuous exhibition of its absence. The 
Quarterly Reviewer believes that man " differs 
more from an elephant or a gorilla than do these 
from the dust of the earth on which they tread," 
and Mr. Mivart has expressed the opinion that 
there is more difference between man and an ape 
than there is between an ape and a piece of 
granite. 1 

And even when Mr. Mivart (p. 86) trips in a 
matter of anatomy, and creates a difficulty for Mr. 
Darwin out of a supposed close similarity between 
the eyes of fishes and cephalopods, which (as 
Gegenbaur and others have clearly shown) does 
not exist, the Quarterly Reviewer adopts the 
argument without hesitation (p. 66). 

There is another important point, however, in 
which it is hard to say whether Mr. Mivart 
diverges from the Quarterly Reviewer or not. 

The Reviewer declares that Mr. Darwin has, 
" with needless opposition, set at nought the first 
principles of both philosophy and religion " (p. 
90). 

1 See the Tablet for March 11, 1871. 



124 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

It looks, at first, as if this meant, that Mr. 
Darwin's views being false, the opposition to 
" religion " which flows from them must be need- 
less. But I suspect this is not the right view of 
the meaning of the passage, as Mr. Mivart, from 
whom the Quarterly Reviewer plainly draws so 
much inspiration, tells us that " the consequences 
which have been drawn from evolution, whether 
exclusively Darwinian or not, to the prejudice of 
religion, by no means follow from it, and are in 
fact illegitimate" (p. 5). 

I may assume, then, that the Quarterly 
Reviewer and Mr. Mivart admit that there is no 
necessary opposition between "evolution whether 
exclusively Darwinian or not," and religion. But 
then, what do they mean by this last much- 
abused term ? On this point the Quarterly 
Reviewer is silent. Mr. Mivart, on the contrary, 
is perfectly explicit, and the whole tenor of his 
remarks leaves no doubt that by " religion " he 
means theology ; and by theology, that particular 
variety of the great Proteus, which is expounded 
by the doctors of the Roman Catholic Church, and 
held by the members of that religious community 
to be the sole form of absolute truth and of saving 
faith. 

According to Mr. Mivart, the greatest and most 
orthodox authorities upon matters of Catholic 
doctrine agree in distinctly asserting " derivative 
creation " or evolution ; " and thus their teachings 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 125 

harmonise with all that modern science can 
possibly require " (p. 305). 

I confess that this bold assertion interested me 
more than anything else in Mr. Mivart's book. 
What little knowledge I possessed of Catholic 
doctrine, and of the influence exerted by Catholic 
authority in former times, had not led me to 
expect that modern science was likely to find 
a warm welcome within the pale of the greatest 
and most consistent of theological organisations. 

And my astonishment reached its climax when 
I found Mr. Mivart citing Father Suarez as his 
chief witness in favour of the scientific freedom 
enjoyed by Catholics the popular repute of that 
learned theologian and subtle casuist not being such 
as to make his works a likely place of refuge for 
liberality of thought. But in these days, when 
Judas Iscariot and Robespierre, Henry VIII. 
and Catiline, have all been shown to be men of 
admirable virtue, far in advance of their age, and 
consequently the victims of vulgar prejudice, it 
was obviously possible that Jesuit Suarez might 
be in like case. And, spurred by Mr. Mivart's 
unhesitating declaration, I hastened to acquaint 
myself with such of the works of the great Catholic 
divine as bore upon the question, hoping, not 
merely to acquaint myself with the true teachings 
of the infallible Church, and free myself of an 
unjust prejudice ; but, haply, to enable myself, at 
a pinch, to put some Protestant bibliolater to 



126 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

shame, by the bright example of Catholic freedom 
from the trammels of verbal inspiration. 

I regret to say that my anticipations have been 
cruelly disappointed. But the extent to which 
my hopes have been crushed can only be fully 
appreciated by citing, in the first place, those 
passages of Mr. Mivart's work by which they were 
excited. In his introductory chapter I find the 
following passages : 

"The prevalence of this theory [of evolution] 
need alarm no one, for it is, without any doubt, 
j perfectly consistent with the strictest and most 
{ orthodox Christian l theology " (p. 5). 

"Mr. Darwin and others may perhaps be 
excused if they have not devoted much time to 
the study of Christian philosophy ; but they have 
no right to assume or accept without careful ex- 
amination, as an unquestioned fact, that in that 
philosophy there is a necessary antagonism 
between the two ideas ' creation ' and ' evolution,' 
as applied to organic forms. 

" It is notorious and patent to all who choose to 
seek, that many distinguished Christian thinkers 
have accepted, and do accept, both ideas, i.e. both 
' creation ' and ' evolution.' 

" As much as ten years ago an eminently 
Christian writer observed : ' The creationist theory 
does not necessitate the perpetual search after 

1 It should be observed that Mr. Mivart employs the term 
"Christian" as if it were the equivalent of "Catholic." 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 127 

manifestations of miraculous power and perpetual 
"catastrophes." Creation is not a miraculous 
interference with the laws of Nature, but the very 
institution of those laws. Law and regularity, 
not arbitrary intervention, was the patristic ideal 
of creation. With this notion they admitted, 
without difficulty, the most surprising origin of 
living creatures, provided it took place by law. 
They held that when God said, " Let the waters 
produce," " Let the earth produce," He conferred 
forces on the elements of earth and water which 
enabled them naturally to produce the various 
species of organic beings. This power, they 
thought, remains attached to the elements 
throughout all time.' The same writer quotes 
St. Augustin and St. Thomas Aquinas, to the 
effect that, ' in the institution of Nature, we do not 
look for miracles, but for the laws of Nature.' 
And, again, St. Basil speaks of the continued 
operation of natural laws in the production of all 
organisms. 

" So much for the writers of early and mediaeval 
times. As to the present day, the author can 
confidently affirm that there are many as well 
versed in theology as Mr. Darwin is in his own 
department of natural knowledge, who would not 
be disturbed by the thorough demonstration of his 
theory. Nay, they would not even be in the least 
painfully affected at witnessing the generation of 
animals of complex organisation by the skilful 



128 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

artificial arrangement of natural forces, and the 
production, in the future, of a fish by means 
analogous to those by which we now produce 
urea. 

"And this because they know that the possi- 
bility of such phenomena, though by no means 
actually foreseen, has yet been fully provided for 
in the old philosophy centuries before Darwin, or 
even centuries before Bacon, and that their place in 
the system can be at once assigned them without 
even disturbing its order or marring its harmony. 

" Moreover, the old tradition in this respect has 
never been abandoned, however much it may have 
been ignored or neglected by some modern writers. 
In proof of this, it may be observed that perhaps 
no post-mediaeval theologian has a wider reception 
amongst Christians throughout the world than 
Suarez, who has a separate section 1 in opposition 
to those who maintain the distinct creation of the 
various kinds or substantial forms of organic 
life " (pp. 1921). 

Still more distinctly does Mr. Mivart express 
himself in the same sense, in his last chapter, 
entitled " Theology and Evolution " (pp. 302-5). 

" It appears, then, that Christian thinkers are 
perfectly free to accept the general evolution 
theory. But are there any theological authorities 
to justify this view of the matter ? 

1 Suarez, Mctaphysica. Edition Vives. Paris, 1868, vol. i. 
Disput. xv. 2. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS J29 

" Now, considering how extremely recent are 
these biological speculations, it might hardly be 
expected d, priori that writers of earlier ages 
should have given expression to doctrines 
harmonising in any degree with such very 
modern views; nevertheless, this is certainly 
the case, and it would be easy to give numerous 
examples. It will be better, however, to cite one 
or two authorities of weight. Perhaps no writer 
of the earlier Christian ages could be quoted whose 
authority is more generally recognised than that 
of St. Augustin. The same may be said of the 
medieval period for St. Thomas Aquinas : and 
since the movement of Luther, Suarez may 
be taken as an authority, widely venerated, 
and one whose orthodoxy has never been ques- 
tioned. 

" It must be borne in mind that for a consider- 
able time even after the last of these writers no 
one had disputed the generally received belief as 
to the small age of the world, or at least of the 
kinds of animals and plants inhabiting it. It 
becomes, therefore, much more striking if views 
formed under such a condition of opinion are 
found to harmonise with modern ideas con- 
cerning ' Creation ' and organic Life. 

" Now St. Augustin insists in a very remarkable 
manner on the merely derivative sense in which 
God's creation of organic forms is to be under- 
stood ; that is, that God created them by conferring 



130 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

on the material world the power to evolve them 
under suitable conditions." 

Mr. Mivart then cites certain passages from St. 
Augustin, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Cornelius a 
Lapide, and finally adds : 

"As to Suarez, it will be enough to refer to Disp. xv. sec. 2, 
No. 9, p. 508, t. i. edition Vives, Paris ; also Nos. 1315. 
Many other references to the same effect could easily be given, 
but these may suffice. 

" It is then evident that ancient and most venerable theo- 
logical authorities distinctly assert derivative creation, and 
thus their teachings harmonise with all that modern science 
can possibly require. " 

It will be observed that Mr. Mivart refers solely 
to Suarez's fifteenth Disputation, though he adds, 
" Many other references to the same effect could 
easily be given." I shall look anxiously for these 
references in the third edition of the " Genesis of 
Species." For the present, all I can say is, that 
I have sought in vain, either in the fifteenth 
Disputation, or elsewhere, for any passage in 
Suarez's writings which, in the slightest degree, 
bears out Mr. Mivart's views as to his opinions. 1 

The title of this fifteenth Disputation is " De 
causa formali substantiali," and the second section 
of that Disputation (to which Mr. Mivart refers) 
is headed, " Quomodo possit forma substantialis 
fieri in materia et ex materia ? " 

1 The edition of Suarez's Disputationes from which the follow- 
ing citations are given, is Birckmann's, in two volumes folio, 
and is dated 1630. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 131 

The problem which Suarez discusses in this 
place may be popularly stated thus : According to 
the scholastic philosophy every natural body has 
two components the one its " matter " (materia 
prima), the other its " substantial form " (forma 
substantialis). Of these the matter is everywhere 
the same, the matter of one body being indis- 
tinguishable from the matter of any other body. 
That which differentiates any one natural body 
from all others is its substantial form, which 
inheres in the matter of that body, as the human 
soul inheres in the matter of the frame of man, 
and is the source of all the activities and other 
properties of the body. 

Thus, says Suarez, if water is heated, and the 
source of heat is then removed, it cools again. 
The reason of this is that there is a certain " inti- 
miiis principium " in the water, which brings it 
back to the cool condition when the external 
impediment to the existence of that condition is 
removed. This intimius principium is the " sub- 
stantial form " of the water. And the substantial 
form of the water is not only the cause (radix) of 
the coolness of the water, but also of its moisture, 
of its density, and of all its other properties. 

It will thus be seen that " substantial forms " 
play nearly the same part in the scholastic 
philosophy as " forces " do in modern science ; the 
general tendency of modern thought being to 
conceive all bodies as resolvable into material 



132 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

particles and forces, in virtue of which last these 
particles assume those dispositions and exercise 
those powers which are characteristic of each 
particular kind of matter. 

But the Schoolmen distinguished two kinds of 
substantial forms, the one spiritual and the other 
material. The former division is represented by 
the human soul, the anima rationalis; and they 
affirm as a matter, not merely of reason, but of 
faith, that every human soul is created out of 
nothing, and by this act of creation is endowed 
with the power of existing for all eternity, apart 
from the materia prima of which the corporeal 
frame of man is composed. And the anima 
rationalis, once united with the materia prima of 
the body, becomes its substantial form, and is the 
source of all the powers and faculties of man of 
all the vital and sensitive phenomena which he 
exhibits just as the substantial form of water is 
the source of all its qualities. 

The " material substantial forms " are those 
which inform all other natural bodies except that 
of man ; and the object of Suarez in the present 
Disputation, is to show that the axiom " ex nihilo 
nihil fit," though not true of the substantial form 
of man, is true of the substantial forms of all 
other bodies, the endless mutations of which 
constitute the ordinary course of nature. The 
origin of the difficulty which he discusses is easily 
comprehensible. Suppose a piece of bright iron 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 133 

to be exposed to the air. The existence of the 
iron depends on the presence within it of a sub- 
stantial form, which is the cause of its properties, 
e.g. brightness, hardness, weight. But, by degrees, 
the iron becomes converted into a mass of rust, 
which is dull, and soft, and light, and, in all other 
respects, is quite different from the iron. As, in 
the scholastic view, this difference is due to the 
rust being informed by a new substantial form, 
the grave problem arises, how did this new sub- 
stantial form come into being ? Has it been 
created ? or has it arisen by the power of natural 
causation ? If the former hypothesis is correct, 
then the axiom, " ex niliilo nihil fit" is false, even 
in relation to the ordinary course of nature, seeing 
that such mutations of matter as imply the 
continual origin of new substantial forms are 
occurring every moment. But the harmonisation 
of Aristotle with theology was as dear to the 
Schoolmen, as the smoothing down the differences 
between Moses and science is to our Broad Church- 
men, and they were proportionably unwilling to 
contradict one of Aristotle's fundamental proposi- 
tions. Nor was their objection to flying in the face 
of the Stagirite likely to be lessened by the fact 
that such flight landed them in flat Pantheism. 

So Father Suarez fights stoutly for the second 
hypothesis ; and I quote the principal part of his 
argumentation as an exquisite specimen of that 
speech which is a " darkening of counsel." 



134 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

"13. Secundo de omnibus aliis formis substantialibus [sc. 
materialibus] diccndum est non fieri proprie ex nihilo, sed ex 
potentia prsejacentis materiae educi : ideoque in effectione harum 
formarum nil fieri contra illud axioma, Ex nihilo nihil fit, si 
recte intelligatur. Haec assertio sumitur ex Aristotele 1. Phy- 
sicorum per totum et libro 7. Metaphyss. et ex aliis auctoribus, 
quos statim referam. Et declaratur breviter, nam fieri ex 
nihilo duo dicit, unum est fieri absolute et simpliciter, aliud est 
quod talis effectio fit ex nihilo. Primum proprie dicitur de re 
subsistente, quia ejus est fieri, cujus est esse : id autem proprie 
quod subsistit et habet esse ; nam quod alteri adjacet, potius est 
quo aliud est. Ex hac ergo parte, formse substantiales niate- 
riales non fiunt ex nihilo, quia proprie non fiunt. Atque hanc 
rationem reddit Divus Thomas 1 parte, qusestione 45, articulo 
8, et qusestione 90, articulo 2, et ex dicendis magis explicabitur. 
Sumendo ergo ipsum fieri in hac proprietate et rigore, sic fieri 
ex nihilo est fieri secundum se totum, id est nulla sui parte 
prcesupposita, ex quo fiat. Et hac ratione res naturales dura de 
novo fiunt, non fiunt ex nihilo, quia fiunt ex prsesupposita 
materia, ex qua componuntur, et ita non fiunt, secundum se 
totse, sed secundum aliquid sui. Formae autem harum rerum, 
quamvis revera totam suam entitatem de novo accipiant, quam 
antea non habebant, quia vero ipsse non fiunt, ut dictum est, 
ideo neque ex nihilo fiunt. Attamen, quia latiori modo sumendo 
verbum illud fieri negari non potest : quin forma facta sit, eo 
modo quo mine est, et antea non erat, ut etiam probat ratio 
dubitandi posita in principio sectionis, ideo addendum est, 
sumpto fieri in hac amplitudine, fieri ex nihilo non tamen 
negare habitudinem materialis causae intrinsece componentis id 
quod fit, sed etiam habitudinem causse materialis per se causantis 
et sustentantis formam quae fit, seu confit. Diximus enim in 
superioribus materiam et esse causam compositi et formae 
dependentis ab ilia : ut res ergo dicatur ex nihilo fieri uterque 
modus causal itatis uegari debet ; et eodem sensu accipiendum 
est illud axioma, ut sit verum : Ex nihilo nihil fit, scilicet 
virtute agentis naturalis et finiti nihil fieri, nisi ex praesupposito 
Bubjecto per se concurrente, et ad compositum et ad formam, si 
utrumque suo modo ab eodem agente fiat. Ex his ergo recto 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 135 

concluditur, fonnns substantiales materiales non fieri ex nihilo, 
quia fiunt ex materia, quae in suo genere per se concurrit, et 
influit ad esse, et fieri talium formarum ; quia, sicut esse non 
possunt nisi affixae materiae, a qua sustententur in esse : ita nee 
fieri possunt, nisi earum effectio et penetratio in eadem materia 
sustentetur. Et haee est propria et per se differentia inter 
effectionem ex nihilo, et ex aliquo, propter quam, ut infra 
ostendemus, prior modus efficiendi superat vim finitam natu- 
raliam agentium, nou vero posterior. 

"14. Ex his etiam constat, proprie de his formis dici non 
creari, sed educi de potentia inateriae. " l 

If I may venture to interpret these hard say- 
ings, Suarez conceives that the evolution of 
substantial forms in the ordinary course of nature, 
is conditioned not only by the existence of the 
materia prima, but also by a certain " concurrence 
and influence " which that materia exerts ; and 
every new substantial form being thus conditioned, 
and in part, at any rate, caused*, by a pre-existing 
.something, cannot be said to be created out of 
nothing. 

But as the whole tenor of the context shows, 
Suarez applies this argumentation merely to the 
evolution of material substantial forms in the 
ordinary course of nature. How the substantial 
forms of animals and plants primarily originated, 
is a question to which, so far as I am able to 
discover, he does not so much as allude in his 
" Metaphysical Disputations." Nor was there any 
necessity that he should do so, inasmuch as he 

1 Suarez, loc. cit. Disput. xv. ii. 



136 MR DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

has devoted a separate treatise of considerable 
bulk to the discussion of all the problems which 
arise out of the account of the Creation which is 
given in the Book of Genesis. And it is a 
matter of wonderment to me that Mr. Mivart, 
who somewhat sharply reproves " Mr. Darwin and 
others " for not acquainting themselves with the 
true teachings of his Church, should allow 
himself to be indebted to a heretic like myself 
for a knowledge of the existence of that " Trac- 
tatus de opere sex Dierum," * in which the learned 
Father, of whom he justly speaks, as " an 
authority widely venerated, and whose orthodoxy 
has never been questioned," directly opposes all 
those opinions for which Mr. Mivart claims the 
shelter of his authority. 

In the tenth and eleventh chapters of the first 
book of this treatise, Suarez inquires in what sense 
the word " day," as employed in the first chapter 
of Genesis, is to be taken. He discusses the 
views of Philo and of Augustin on this question, 
and rejects them. He suggests that the approval 
of their allegorising interpretations by St. Thomas 
Aquinas, merely arose out of St. Thomas's 
modesty, and his desire not to seem openly to 
controvert St. Augustin " voluisse Divus Thomas 



1 Tractatus de opere sex Dierum, scu de Univcrsi Crcatione, 
quatenus sex diebus perfecta csse, in libro Genesis cap. i. refcrtur, 
ft prccsrrtim de productions hominis in slatu innoceniicc. Ed. 
Birckmann, 1622. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 137 

pro sua modestia subterfugere vim argument! 
potius quam aperte Augustinum inconstantiae 
arguere." 

Finally, Suarez decides that the writer of 
Genesis meant that the term " day " should be 
taken in its natural sense ; and he winds up the 
discussion with the very just and natural remark 
that "it is not probable that God, in inspiring 
Moses to write a history of the Creation which 
was to be believed by ordinary people, would 
have made him use language, the true meaning of 
which it is hard to discover, and still harder to 
believe." l 

And in chapter xii. 3, Suarez further ob- 
serves : 

" Ratio enim retinendi veram significationem diei naturalis 
est ilia coramunis, quod verba Scripturse non sunt ad metaphoras 
transferenda, nisi vel necessitas cogit, vel ex ipsa scriptura 
constet, et maxime in historica narratione et ad instructionem 
fidei pertinente : sed hsec ratio non minus cogit ad intelligendum 
proprie dierum numerum, quam diei qualitatem, QUIA NON 

MINUS UNO MODO QUAM ALIO DESTRUITUR S[NCERITAS, IMO ET 

VERITAS HISTORIC. Secundo hoc valde confirmant alia Scripturae 
loca, in quibus hi sex dies tanquam veri, et inter se distincti 
commemorantur, ut Exod. 20 dicitur, Sex diebus operabis ct 
facics omnia opera tua, septiino autem die Sabbatum Domini Dei 



1 " Propterhsec ergo sententia ilia Augustini et propter nimiam 
obscuritatem et subtilitatem ejus diih'cilis creditu est : quia 
verisimile non est Deum iiispirasse Moysi, ut historiam de 
creatione mundi ad fidem totius populi adeo necessariam per 
nomina dierum explicaret, quorum significatio vix inveniri et 
difiicillime ab aliquo credi posset." (Loc. tit. Lib. I. cap. xL 
42.) 



138 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

tui est. Et infra : Sex enim diebus fecit Dominus cesium et 
terram et mare et omnia quce in eis sunt, et idem repetitur in 
cap. 31. In quibus locis sermonis proprietas colligi potest turn 
ex sequiparatione, nam cum dicitur : sex diebus opcrabw, pro- 
priissime intelligitur : turn quia non est verisimile, potuisse 
populum intelligere verba ilia in alio sensu, et e contrario in- 
credibile est, Deum in suis praeceptis tradendis illis verbis ad 
populum fuisse loquutum, quibus deciperetur, falsum sensum 
concipiendo, si Deus non per sex veros dies opera sua fecisset. " 

These passages leave no doubt that this great 
doctor of the Catholic Church, of unchallenged 
authority and unspotted orthodoxy, not only 
declares it to be Catholic doctrine that the work 
of creation took place in the space of six natural 
days ; but that he warmly repudiates, as inconsist- 
ent with our knowledge of the Divine attributes, 
the supposition that the language which Catholic 
faith requires the believer to hold that God 
inspired, was used in any other sense than that 
which He knew it would convey to the minds of 
those to whom it was addressed. 

And I think that in this repudiation Father 
Suarez will have the sympathy of every man of 
common uprightness, to whom it is certainly 
" incredible " that the Almighty should have acted 
in a manner which He would esteem dishonest 
and base in a man. 

But the belief that the universe was created in 
six natural days is hopelessly inconsistent with 
the doctrine of evolution, in so far as it applies to 
the stars and planetary bodies ; and it can be 



v MB. DARWIN'S CRITICS 139 

made to agree with a belief in the evolution of 
living beings only by the supposition that the 
plants and animals, which are said to have been 
created on the third, fifth, and sixth days, were 
merely the primordial forms, or rudiments, out of 
which existing plants and animals have been 
evolved; so that, on these days, plants and 
animals were not created actually, but only 
potentially. 

The latter view is that held by Mr. Mivart, who 
follows St. Augustin, and implies that he has the 
sanction of Suarez. But, in point of fact, the 
latter great light of orthodoxy takes no small 
pains to give the most explicit and direct contra- 
diction to all such imaginations, as the following 
passages prove. In the first place, as regards 
plants, Suarez discusses the problem : 

" Quomodo herba virens ct coctera vegetabilia hoc [tcrtio] die 
fuerint producta. 1 

" Praecipua enim difficultas hie est, quam attingit Div. Thomas 
1, par. qu. 69, art. 2, an hsec productio plantarum hoc die facta 
intelligenda sit de productione ipsarum in proprio esse actuali et 
fonnali (ut sic rem explicerem) vel de productione. tantum in 
semine et in potentia. Nam Divus Augustinus libro quinto Genes, 
ad liter, cap. 4 et 5 et libro 8, cap. 3, posteriorein partem tradit, 
dicens, terrain in hoc die accepisse virtutem germinandi omnia 
vegetabilia quasi concepto omnium illorum semine, non tamen 
statim vegetabilia omnia produxisse. Quod primo suadet verbis 
illis capitis secundi. In die quo fecit Dcus ccdum et tcrram ct 

1 Loc. cit. Lib. II. cap. vii. et viii. 1, 32, 35. 



140 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

omne virgultum agri priusguam gcrminarct. Quomodo enim 
potuerant virgulta fieri antequam terra germinaret nisi quia 
causaliter prius et quasi in radice, seu in seniine facta sunt, et 
postea in actu producta ? Secundo confirmari potest, quia 
verbum illud germinct terra optime exponitur potestative ut sic 
dicam, id est accipiat terra vim germinandi. Sicut in eodem 
capite dicitur crcscite et multiplicamini. Tertio potest confirmari, 
quiaactualis productio vegetabilium non tarn ad opus creationis, 
quam ad opus propagationis pertinet, quod postea factum est. 
Et hanc sententiarn sequitur Eucherius lib. 1, in Gen. cap. 11, et 
illi faveat Glossa, interli. Hugo, et Lyran. dum verbum 
germinet dicto modo exponunt. NIHILOMINUS CONTRARIA 

SENTENTIA TENENDA EST : SCILICET, PRODUXISSE DEUM HOC 
DIE HERBAM, ARBORES, ET ALIA VEGETABILIA ACTU IN PROP1UA 

SPECIE ET NATTJRA. Hsec est communis sententia Patrum. 
Basil, homil. 5 ; Exsemer. Ambros. lib. 3 ; Exaemer. cap. 8, 
11, et 16 ; Chrysost. homil. 5 in Gen. Damascene, lib. 2 de Fid. 
cap. 10 ; Theodor. Cyrilli. Bedae, Glossce ordinariae et aliorum in 
Gen. Et idem sentit Divus Thomas, supra, solvens argumenta 
Augustini, quamvis propter reverentiam ejus quasi problematice 
semper procedat. Denique idem sentiunt omnes qui in his 
operibus veram successionem et temporalem distinctionem 
agnoscant. " 

Secondly, with respect to animals, Suarez is no 
less decided : 

" De animalium raiione carentium production*; quinto et sexto 

die facta. 1 

"32. Primo ergo nobis certum sit haec animantia non in 
virtnte tantum aut in semine, sed actu, et in seipsis, facta fuisse 
his diebus in quibus facta narrantur. Quanquam Augustinus 
lib. 3, Gen. ad liter, cap. 5 in sua persistens sententia contrarium 
sen tire videatur." 

But Suarez proceeds to refute Augustin's 
1 Loc. cit. Lib. II. cap. vii. et viii. 1, 32, 35. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 141 

opinions at great length, and his final judgment 
may be gathered from the following passage : 

" 35. Tertio dicendura est, haec animalia omnia his diebus 
producta esse, IN PERFECTO STATU, IN SINGULIS INDIVIDUIS, SEIT 

8PECIEBUS SITIS, JUXTA TJNIUSCUJUSQUE NATURAM .... 

ITAQUE FUERUNT OMNIA CEEATA INTEGRA ET OMNIBUS suis 

MEMBRIS PERFECT A." 

As regards the creation of animals and plants, 
therefore, it is 'clear that Suarez, so far from 
" distinctly asserting derivative creating," denies 
it as distinctly and positively as he can; that 
he is at much pains to refute St. Augustiu's 
opinions ; that he does not hesitate to regard 
the faint acquiescence of St. Thomas Aquinas in 
the views of his brother saint as a kindly subter- 
fuge on the part of Divus Thomas ; and that he 
affirms his own view to be that which is supported 
by the authority of the Fathers of the Church. 
So that, when Mr. Mivart tells us that Catholic 
theology is in harmony with all that modern 
science can possibly require ; that " to the general 
theory of evolution, and to the special Darwinian 
form of it, no exception . . . need be taken on 
the ground of orthodoxy;" and that "law and 
regularity, not arbitrary intervention, was the 
Patristic ideal of creation," we have to choose 
between his dictum, as a theologian, and that 
of a great light of his Church, whom he him- 
self declares to be " widely venerated as an 



142 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

authority, and whose orthodoxy has never been 
questioned." 

But Mr. Mivart does not hesitate to push his 
attempt to harmonise science with Catholic 
orthodoxy to its utmost limit ; and, while 
assuming that the soul of man "arises from 
immediate and direct creation," he supposes that 
his body was " formed at first (as now in each 
separate individual) by derivative, or secondary 
creation, through natural laws " (p. 331). 

This means, I presume, that an animal, having 
the corporeal form and bodily powers of man, may 
have been developed out of some lower form of 
life by a process of evolution ; and that, after this 
anthropoid animal had existed for a longer or 
shorter time, God made a soul by direct creation, 
and put it into the manlike body, which, hereto- 
fore, had been devoid of that anima rationalis, 
which is supposed to be man's distinctive 
character. 

This hypothesis is incapable of either proof or 
disproof, and therefore may be true ; but if 
Suarez is any authority, it is not Catholic 
doctrine. " Nulla est in homine forma educta de 
potentia materise," l is a dictum which is absolutely 
inconsistent with the doctrine of the natural 
evolution of any vital manifestation of the human 
body. 

Moreover, if man existed as an animal before 
1 Disput. xv. x. No. 27. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 143 

he was provided with a rational soul, he must, in 
accordance with the elementary requirements of 
the philosophy in which Mr. Hivart delights, have 
possessed a distinct sensitive and vegetative soul, 
or souls. Hence, when the " breath of life " was 
breathed into the manlike animal's nostrils, he 
must have already been a living and feeling 
creature. But Suarez particularly discusses this 
point, and not only rejects Mr. Mivart's view, but 
adopts language of very theological strength 
regarding it. 

"Possent prseterea his adjungi arguments theologica, ut est 
illud quod sunritur ex illis verbis Genes. 2. Formavit Dcus 
hominem ex Kino temx et inspiravit in faciem ejus spiraculum 
vita: et factus est homo in animam viventem : ille enim spiritus, 
quam Deus spiravit, anima rationalis fuit, et PER EADEM FACTUS 

EST HOMO VIVENS, ET CONSQUENTER, ETIAM SENTIENS. 

" Aliud est ex VIII. Synodo General! quse est Constantinopol- 
itana IV. can. 11, qui sic habet. Ajtparct quosdam in tantum 
impictatis vcnisse ut homines duas animas habcrc doymatiz-';nt : 
talis igitur impictatis invcniorcs et similes sapientcs, cum Vctus 
et Novum Tcstamentum omncsque Ecclcsian patres unam animam 
raiionalcm hominem habere as-.evercnt, Sancta et universalis 
Sy nodus anathematized." 1 

Moreover, if the animal nature of man was the 
result of evolution, so must that of woman have 
been. But the Catholic doctrine, according to 
Suarez, is that woman was, in the strictest and 
most literal sense of the words, made out of the 
rib of man. 

1 Disput. xv. " De causa formal! substantial!," x. No. 24. 



144 MR. DAHWIN'S CRITICS v 

" Nihilominus sententia Catholica est, verlia ilia Seriptnras 
ease ad literam intelligenda. Ac PROINDE VERB, AC REALITER, 
TULISSE DEUM COSTAM ADA.IAM, ET, EX ILLA, CORPUS EV.E 

FORMASSE." 1 

Nor is there any escape in the supposition that 
some woman existed before Eve, after the fashion 
of the Lilith of the rabbis ; since Suarez qualifies 
that notion, along with some other Judaic 
imaginations, as simply " damnabilis." 2 

After the perusal of the " Tractatus de Opere " 
it is, in fact, impossible to admit that Suarez held 
any opinion respecting the origin of species, except 
such as is consistent with the strictest and most 
literal interpretation of the words of Genesis. 
For Suarez, it is Catholic doctrine, that the world 
was made in six natural days. On the first of 
these days the materia prima was made out of 
nothing, to receive afterwards those " substantial 
forms " which moulded it into the universe of 
things ; on the third day, the ancestors of all 
living plants suddenly came into being, full-grown, 
perfect, and possessed of all the properties which 
now distinguish them ; while, on the fifth and 
sixth days, the ancestors of all existing animals 
were similarly caused to exist in their complete 
and perfect state, by the infusion of their appro- 
priate material substantial forms into the matter 

1 Traclatus de Opcre, Lib. III. " De hominis creatione," cap. 
ii. No. 3. 

2 Ibid. Lib. III. cap. iv. Nos. 8 and 9 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 145 

which had already been created. Finally, on the 
sixth day, the anima rationulis that rational and 
immortal substantial form which is peculiar to 
man was created out of nothing, and " breathed 
into " a mass of matter which, till then, was mere 
dust of the earth, and so man arose. But the 
species man was represented by a solitary male 
individual, until the Creator took out one of his 
ribs and fashioned it into a female. 

This is the view of the " Genesis of Species " 
held by Suarez to be the only one consistent with 
Catholic faith : it is because he holds this view to 
be Catholic that he does not hesitate to declare 
St. Augustin unsound, and St. Thomas Aquinas 
guilty of weakness, when the one swerved from 
this view and the other tolerated the deviation. 
And, until responsible Catholic authority say, 
for example, the Archbishop of Westminster 
formally declares that Suarez was wrong, and 
that Catholic priests are free to teach their {locks 
that the world was not made in six natural days, 
and that plants and animals were not created in 
their perfect and complete state, but have been 
evolved by natural processes through long ages 
from certain germs in 'which they were potentially 
contained, I, for one, shall feel bound to believe 
that the doctrines of Suarez are the only ones 
which are sanctioned by Infallible Authority, as 
represented by the Holy Father and the Catholic 
Church. 



146 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

I need hardly add that they are as absolutely 
denied and repudiated by Scientific Authority, as 
represented by Reason and Fact. The question 
whether the earth and the immediate progenitors 
of its present living population were made in six 
natural days or not is no longer one upon which 
two opinions can be held. 

The fact that it did not so come into being 
stands upon as sound a basis as any fact of 
history whatever. It is not true that existing 
plants and animals came into being within three 
days of the creation of the earth out of nothing, for 
it is certain that innumerable generations of other 
plants and animals lived upon the earth before 
its present population. And when, Sunday after 
Sunday, men who profess to be our instructors in 
righteousness read out the statement, "In six 
days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, 
and all that in them is," in innumerable churches, 
they are either propagating what they may easily 
know, and, therefore, are bound to know, to be 
falsities ; or, if they use the words in some non- 
natural sense, they fall below the moral standard of 
the much-abused Jesuit. 

Thus far the contradiction between Catholic 
verity and Scientific verity is complete and 
absolute, quite independently of the truth or false- 
hood of the doctrine of evolution. But, for those 
who hold the doctrine of evolution, all the Catholic 
verities about the creation of living beings must 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 147 

be no less false. For them, the assertion that the 
progenitors of all existing plants were made on the 
third day, of animals on the fifth and sixth days, 
in the forms they now present, is simply false. 
Nor can they admit that man was made suddenly 
out of the dust of the earth ; while it would be an 
insult to ask an evolutionist whether he credits the 
preposterous fable respecting the fabrication of 
woman to which Suarez pins his faith. If Suarez 
has rightly stated Catholic doctrine, then is 
evolution utter heresy. And such I believe it to 
be. In addition to the truth of the doctrine of 
evolution, indeed, one of its greatest merits in 
my eyes, is the fact that it occupies a position of 
complete and irreconcilable antagonism to that 
vigorous and consistent enemy of the highest intel- 
lectual, moral, and social life of mankind the 
Catholic Church. No doubt, Mr. Mivart, like 
other putters of new wine into old bottles, is 
actuated by motives which are worthy of respect, 
and even of sympathy ; but his attempt has met 
with the fate which the Scripture prophesies for 
all such. 

Catholic theology, like all theologies which are 
based upon the assumption of the truth of the 
account of the origin of things given in the Book 
of Genesis, being utterly irreconcilable with the 
doctrine of evolution, the student of science, who is 
satisfied that the evidence upon which the doctrine 
of evolution rests, is incomparably stronger and 



148 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

better than that upon which the supposed author- 
ity of the Book of Genesis rests, will not trouble 
himself further with these theologies, but will 
confine his attention to sijch arguments against 
the view he holds as are based upon purely 
scientific data and by scientific data I do not 
merely mean the truths of physical, mathematical, 
or logical science, but those of moral and meta- 
physical science. For by science I understand 
all knowledge which rests upon evidence and 
reasoning of a like character to that which claims 
our assent to ordinary scientific propositions. And 
if any one is able to make good the assertion that 
his theology rests upon valid evidence and sound 
reasoning, then it appears to me that such theology 
will take its place as a part of science. 

The present antagonism between theology and 
science does not arise from any assumption by the 
men of science that all theology must necessarily 
be excluded from science, but simply because 
they are unable to allow that reason and morality 
have two weights and two measures ; and that the 
belief in a proposition, because authority tells you 
it is true, or because you wish to believe it, which 
is a high crime and misdemeanour when the sub- 
ject matter of reasoning is of one kind, becomes 
under the alias of " faith " the greatest of all 
virtues when the subject matter of reasoning is of 
another kind. 

The Bishop of Brechin said well the other 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 149 

day : " Liberality in religion I do not mean 
tender and generous allowances for the mis- 
takes of others is only unfaithfulness to truth." l 
And, with the same qualification, I venture 
to paraphrase the Bishop's dictum : " Eccle- 
siasticism in science is only unfaithfulness to 
truth." 

Elijah's great question, " Will you serve God or 
Baal? Choose ye," is uttered audibly enough in 
the ears of every one of us as we come to man- 
hood. Let every man who tries to answer it 
seriously ask himself whether he can be satisfied 
with the Baal of authority, and with all the good 
things his worshippers are promised in this world 
and the next. If he can, let him, if he be so 
inclined, amuse himself with such scientific imple- 
ments as authority tells him are safe and will not 
cut his fingers ; but let him not imagine he is, or 
can be, both a true son of the Church and a loyal 
soldier of science. 

And, on the other hand, if the blind acceptance 
of authority appears to him in its true colours, as 
mere private judgment in excelsis, and if he have 
the courage to stand alone, face to face with the 
abyss of the eternal and unknowable, let him be 
content, once for all, not only to renounce the good 
things promised by "Infallibility," but even to 
bear the bad things which it prophesies ; content 

1 Charge at the Diocesan Synod of Brechin. Scotsman, Sept. 
14, 1871. 



150 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

to follow reason and fact in singleness and honesty 
of purpose, wherever they may lead, in the sure 
faith that a hell of honest men will, to him, be 
more endurable than a paradise full of angelic 
shams. 

Mr. Mivart asserts that " without a belief in a 
personal God there is no religion worthy of the 
name." This is a matter of opinion. But it may 
be asserted, with less reason to fear contradiction, 
that the worship of a personal God, who, on Mr. 
Mivart's hypothesis, must have used language 
studiously calculated to deceive His creatures and 
worshippers, is " no religion worthy of the name." 
" Incredible est, Deum illis verbis ad populum 
fuisse locutum quibus deciperetur," is a verdict in 
which, for once, Jesuit casuistry concurs with the 
healthy moral sense of all mankind. 

Having happily got quit of the theological 
aspect of evolution, the supporter of that great 
truth who turns to the scientific objections which 
are brought against it by recent criticism, finds, to 
his relief, that the work before him is greatly 
lightened by the spontaneous retreat of the enemy 
from nine-tenths of the territory which he occu- 
pied ten years ago. Even the Quarterly Reviewer 
not only abstains from venturing to deny that 
evolution has taken place, but he openly admits 
that Mr. Darwin has forced on men's minds " a 
recognition of the probability, if not more, of 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 151 

evolution, and of the certainty of the action of 
natural selection " (p. 49). 

I do not quite see, myself, how, if the action of 
natural selection is certain, the occurrence of evolu- 
tion is only probable; inasmuch as the development 
of a new species by natural selection is, so far as 
it goes, evolution. However, it is not worth while 
to quarrel with the precise terms of a sentence 
which shows that the high water mark of intelli- 
gence among those most respectable of Britons, the 
readers of the Quarterly Review, has now reached 
such a level that the next tide may lift them 
easily and pleasantly on the once-dreaded shore of 
evolution. Nor, having got there, do they seem 
likely to stop, until they have reached the inmost 
heart of that great region, and accepted the ape 
ancestry of, at any rate, the body of man. For 
the Reviewer admits that Mr. Darwin can be said 
to have established : 

"That if the various kinds of lower animals have been 
evolved one from the other by a process of natural generation 
or evolution, then it becomes highly probable, d priori, that 
man's body has been similarly evolved ; but this, in such a 
case, becomes equally probable from the admitted fact that he is 
an animal at all " (p. 65). 

From the principles laid down in the last sen- 
tence it would follow that if man were constructed 
upon a plan as different from that of any other 
animal as that of a sea-urchin is from that of a 
whale, it would be " equally probable " that he 

39 



152 ME. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

had been developed from some other animal as it 
is now, when we know that for every bone, muscle, 
tooth, and even pattern of tooth, in man, there is a 
corresponding bone, muscle, tooth, and pattern of 
tooth, in an ape. And this shows one of two things 
either that the Quarterly Reviewer's notions of 
probability are peculiar to himself, or that he has 
such an overpowering faith in the truth of evolution 
that no extent of structural break between one 
animal and another is sufficient to destroy his con- 
viction that evolution has taken place. 

But this by the way. The importance of the 
admission that there is nothing in man's physical 
structure to interfere with his having been evolved 
from an ape is not lessened because it is grudg- 
ingly made and inconsistently qualified. And in- 
stead of jubilating over the extent of the enemy's 
retreat, it will be more worth while to lay siege to 
his last stronghold the position that there is a 
distinction in kind between the mental faculties 
of man and those of brutes, and that in consequence 
of this distinction in kind no gradual progress 
from the mental faculties of the one to those of the 
other can have taken place. 

The Quarterly Reviewer entrenches himself 
within formidable-looking psychological outworks, 
and there is no getting at him without attacking 
them one by one. 

He begins by "laying down the following pro- 
position. " ' Sensation ' is not ' thought,' and no 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 153 

amount of the former would constitute the most 
rudimentary condition of the latter, though sen- 
sations supply the conditions for the existence of 
' thought ' or ' knowledge' " (p. 67). 

This proposition is true, or not, according to the 
sense in which the word " thought " is employed. 
Thought is not uncommonly used in a sense co- 
extensive with consciousness, and, especially, with 
those states of consciousness we call memory. If I 
recall the impression made by a colour or an odour, 
and distinctly remember blueness or muskiness, I 
may say with perfect propriety that I " think of " 
blue or musk ; and, so long as the thought lasts, 
it is simply a faint reproduction of the state of 
consciousness to which I gave the name in question, 
when it first became known to me as a sensation. 

Now, if that faint reproduction of a sensation, 
which we call the memory of it, is properly termed 
a thought, it seems to me to be a somewhat forced 
proceeding to draw a hard and fast line of demar- 
cation between thoughts and sensations. If sen- 
sations are not rudimentary thoughts, it may be 
said that some thoughts are rudimentary sensations. 
No amount of sound constitutes an echo, but for 
all that no one would pretend that an echo is some- 
thing of totally different nature from a sound. 
Again, nothing can be looser, or more inaccurate, 
than the assertion that " sensations supply the 
conditions for the existence of thought or know- 
ledge." If this implies that sensations supply the 



154 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

conditions for the existence of our memory of sen- 
sations or of our thoughts about sensations, it is a 
truism which it is hardly worth while to state so 
solemnly. If it implies that sensations supply any- 
thing else, it is obviously erroneous. And if it 
means, as the context would seem to show it does, 
that sensations are the subject-matter of all thought 
or knowledge, then it is no less contrary to fact, 
inasmuch as our emotions, which constitute a large 
part of the subject-matter of thought or of know- 
ledge, are not sensations. 

More eccentric still is the Quarterly Reviewer's 
next piece of psychology. 

"Altogether, we may clearly distinguish at least six kinds of 
action to which the nervous system ministers : 

" I. That in which impressions received result in appropriate 
movements without the intervention of sensation or thought, as 
in the cases of injury above given. This is the reflex action of 
the nervous system. 

" II. That in which stimuli from without result in sensations 
through the agency of which their due effects are wrought out. 
Sensation. 

" III. That in which impressions received result in sensations 
which give rise to the observation of sensible objects. Sensible 
perception. 

' ' IV. That in which sensations and perceptions continue to 
coalesce, agglutinate, and combine in more or less complex 
aggregations, according to the laws of the association of sensible 
perceptions. A ssociation. 

"The above four groups contain only indeliberate operations, 
consisting, as they do at the best, but of mere presentative 
sensible ideas in no way implying any reflective or representative 
faculty. Such actions minister to and form Instinct. Besides these, 
we may distinguish two other kinds of mental action, namely : 



v AIR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 155 

"V. That in which sensations and sensible perceptions are 
reflected on by thought, and recognised as our own, and wo 
ourselves recognised by ourselves as affected and perceiving. 
Self-consciousness. 

"VI. That in which we reflect upon our sensations or 
perceptions, and ask what they are, and why they are. Reason. 

"These two latter kinds of action are deliberate operations, 
performed, as they are, by means of representative ideas imply- 
ing the use of a reflective representative faculty. Such actions 
distinguish the intellect or rational faculty. Now, we assert 
that possession in perfection of all the first four ( prescntative) 
kinds of action by no means implies the possession of the last 
two (representative) kinds. All persons, we think, must admit 
the truth of the following proposition : 

" Two faculties are distinct, not in degree but in kind, if we 
may possess the one in perfection without that fact implying 
that we possess the other also. Still more will this be the case 
if the two faculties tend to increase in an inverse ratio. Yet 
this is the distinction between the instinctive and the intellectual 
parts of man's nature. 

" As to animals, we fully admit that they may possess all the 
first four groups of actions that they may have, so to speak, 
mental images of sensible objects combined in all degrees of 
complexity, as governed by the laws of association. We deny 
to them, on the other hand, the possession of the last two kinds 
of mental action. We deny them, that is, the power of reflecting 
on their own existences, or of inquiring into the nature of objects 
and their causes. We deny that they know that they know or 
know themselves in knowing. In other words, we deny them 
reason. The possession of the presentative faculty, as above 
explained, in no way implies that of the reflective faculty ; nor 
does any amount of direct operation imply the power of asking 
the reflective question before mentioned, as to 'what' and 
'why.'" (Loc. cit. pp. 67, 68.) 

Sundry points are worthy of notice in this 
remarkable account of the intellectual powers. In 
the first place the Reviewer ignores emotion and 



156 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

volition, though they are no inconsiderable " kinds 
of action to which the nervous system ministers," 
and memory has a place in his classification only 
by implication. Secondly, we are told that the 
second "kind of action to which the nervous 
system ministers " is " that in which stimuli from 
without result in sensations through the agency 
of which their due effects are wrought out. 
Sensation." Does this really mean that, in the 
writer's opinion, "sensation" is the "agent" by 
which the " due effect " of the stimulus, which 
gives rise to sensation, is " wrought out " ? 
Suppose somebody runs a pin into me. The 
" due effect " of that particular stimulus will 
probably be threefold ; namely, a sensation of 
pain, a start, and an interjectional expletive. 
Does the Quarterly Reviewer really think that 
the " sensation " is the " agent " by which the 
other two phenomena are wrought out ? 

But these matters are of little moment to 
anyone but the Reviewer and those persons who 
may incautiously take their physiology, or psycho- 
logy, from him. The really interesting point is 
this, that when he fully admits that animals 
" may possess all the first four groups of actions," 
he grants all that is necessary for the purposes of 
the evolutionist. For he hereby admits that in 
animals " impressions received result in sensations 
which give rise to the observation of sensible 
objects," and that they have what he calls 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 157 

"sensible perception." Nor was it possible to 
help the admission ; for we have as much reason 
to ascribe to animals, as we have to attribute to 
our fellow-men, the power, not only of perceiving 
external objects as external, and thus practically 
recognizing the difference between the self and the 
not-self; but that of distinguishing between like 
and unlike, and between simultaneous and suc- 
cessive things. When a gamekeeper goes out 
coursing with a greyhound in leash, and a hare 
crosses the field of vision, he becomes the subject 
of those states of consciousness we call visual 
sensation, and that is all he receives from without. 
Sensation, as such, tells him nothing whatever 
about the cause of these states of consciousness; 
but the thinking faculty instantly goes to work 
upon the raw material of sensation furnished to it 
through the eye, and gives rise to a train of 
thoughts. First comes the thought that there is 
an object at a certain distance ; then arises 
another thought the perception of the likeness 
between the states of consciousness awakened by 
this object to those presented by memory, as, on 
some former occasion, called up by a hare ; this is 
succeeded by another thought of the nature of an 
emotion namely, the desire to possess the hare ; 
then follows a longer or shorter train of other 
thoughts, which end in a volition and an act the 
loosing of the greyhound from the leash. These 
several thoughts are the concomitants of a process 



158 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

which' goes on in the nervous system of the man. 
Unless the nerve -elements of the retina, of the 
optic nerve, of the brain, of the spinal cord, and 
of the nerves of the arms, went through certain 
physical changes in due order and correlation, the 
various states of consciousness which have been 
enumerated would not make their appearance. So 
that in this, as in all other intellectual operations, 
we have to distinguish two sets of successive 
changes one in the physical basis of conscious- 
ness, and the other in consciousness itself ; one set 
which may, and doubtless will, in course of time, 
be followed through all their complexities by the 
anatomist and the physicist, and one of which only 
the man himself can have immediate knowledge. 

As it is very necessai-y to keep up a clear 
distinction between these two processes, let the one 
be called neurosis, and the other psychosis. When 
the gamekeeper was first trained to his work 
every step in the process of neurosis was accom- 
panied by a corresponding step in that of psychosis, 
or nearly so. He was conscious of seeing some- 
thing, conscious of making sure it was a hare, 
conscious of desiring to catch it, and therefore to 
loose the greyhound at the right time, conscious of 
the acts by which he let the dog out of the leash. 
But with practice, though the various steps of the 
neurosis remain for otherwise the impression on 
the retina would not result in the loosing of the 
dog the great majority of the steps of the 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 159 

psychosis vanish, and the loosing of the dog follows 
unconsciously, or as we say, without thinking about 
it, upon the sight of the hare. No one will deny 
that the series of acts which originally intervened 
between the sensation and the letting go of the 
dog were, in the strictest sense, intellectual and 
rational operations. Do they cease to be so when 
the man ceases to be conscious of them ? That 
depends upon what is the essence and what, the 
accident of those operations, which, taken to- 
gether, constitute ratiocination. 

Now ratiocination is resolvable into predication, 
and predication consists in marking, in some way, 
the existence, the co-existence, the succession, the 
likeness and unlikeness, of things or their ideas. 
Whatever does this, reasons ; and if a in^chine pro- 
duces the effects of reason, I see no more ground 
for denying to it the reasoning power, because it 
is unconscious, than I see for refusing to Mr. 
Babbage's engine the title of a calculating machine 
on the same grounds. 

Thus it seems to me that a gamekeeper reasons, 
whether he is conscious or unconscious, whether 
his reasoning is carried on by neurosis alone, or 
whether it involves more or less psychosis. And 
if this is true of the gamekeeper, it is also true of 
the greyhound. The essential resemblances in all 
points of structure and function, so far as they can 
be studied, between the nervous system of the man 
and that of the dog, leave no reasonable doubt 



160 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

that the processes which go on in the one are just 
like those which take place in the other. In the 
dog, there can be no doubt that the ner.vous 
matter which lies between the retina and the 
muscles undergoes a series of changes, precisely 
analogous to those which, in the man, give rise to 
sensation, a train of thought, and volition. 

Whether this neurosis is accompanied by such 
psychosis as ours it is impossible to say ; but 
those who deny that the nervous changes, which, 
in the dog, correspond with those which underlie 
thought in a man, are accompanied by conscious- 
ness, are equally bound to maintain that those 
nervous changes in the dog, which correspond with 
those which underlie sensation in a man, are also 
unaccompanied by consciousness. In other words, 
if there is no ground for believing that a dog thinks, 
neither is there any for believing that he feels. 

As is well known, Descartes boldly faced this 
dilemma, and maintained that all animals were 
mere machines and entirely devoid of consciousness. 
But he did not deny, nor can anyone deny, that in 
this case they are reasoning machines, capable of 
performing all those operations which are per- 
formed by the nervous system of man when he 
reasons. For even supposing that in man, and in 
man only, psychosis is superadded to neurosis the 
neurosis which is common to both man and animal 
gives their reasoning processes a fundamental 
unity. But Descartes' position is open to very 



v MIL DARWIN'S CRITICS 1G1 

serious objections if the evidence that animals feel 
is insufficient to prove that they really do so. What 
is the value of the evidence which leads one to 
believe that one's fellow-man feels ? The only 
evidence in this argument of analogy is the 
similarity of his structure and of his actions to 
one's own. And if that is good enough to prove 
that one's fellow-man feels, surely it is good 
enough to prove that an ape feels. For the differ- 
ences of structure and function between men and 
apes are utterly insufficient to warrant the 
assumption that while men have those states of 
consciousness we call sensations apes have nothing 
of the kind. Moreover, we have as good evidence 
that apes are capable of emotion and volition as 
we have that men other than ourselves are. But 
if apes possess three out of the four kinds of states 
of consciousness which we discover in ourselves, 
what possible reason is there for denying them the 
fourth ? If they are capable of sensation, emotion, 
and volition, why are they to be denied thought 
(in the sense of predication) ? 

No answer has ever been given to these 
questions. And as the law of continuity is as 
much opposed, as is the common sense of man- 
kind, to the notion that all animals are unconscious 
machines, it may safely be assumed that no 
sufficient answer ever will be given to them. 

There is every reason to believe that con- 
sciousness is a function of nervous matter, when 



162 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

that nervous matter lias attained a certain degree 
of organisation, just as we know the other 
" actions to which the nervous system ministers," 
such as reflex action and the like, to be. As I 
have ventured to state my view of the matter 
elsewhere, " our thoughts are the expression of 
molecular changes in that matter of life which is 
the source of our other vital phenomena." 

Mr. Wallace objects to this statement in the 
following terms : 

"Not having been able to find any clue in Professor Huxley's 
writings to the steps by which he passes from those vital pheno- 
mena, which consist only, in their last analysis, of movements 
by particles of matter, to those other phenomena which we term 
thought, sensation, or consciousness ; but, knowing that so 
positive an expression of opinion from him will have great weight 
with many persons, I shall endeavour to show, with as much 
brevity as is compatible with clearness, that this theory is not 
only incapable of proof, but is also, as it appears to me, 
inconsistent with accurate conceptions of molecular physics." 

With all respect for Mr. Wallace, it appears to 
me that his remarks are entirely beside the ques- 
tion. I really know nothing whatever, and never 
hope to know anything, of the steps by which the 
passage from molecular movement to states of 
consciousness is effected ; and I entirely agree 
with the sense of the passage which he quotes 
from Professor Tyndall, apparently imagining that 
it is in opposition to the view I hold. 

All that I have to say is, that, in my belief, 
consciousness and molecular action are capable of 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 1G3 

being expressed by one another, just as heat and 
mechanical action are capable of being expressed 
in terms of one another. Whether we shall ever 
be able to express consciousness in foot-pounds, or 
not, is more than I will venture to say ; but that 
there is evidence of the existence of some corre- 
lation between mechanical motion and conscious- 
ness, is as plain as anything can be. Suppose the 
poles of an electric battery to be connected by 
a platinum wire. A certain intensity of the 
current gives rise in the mind of a bystander to 
that state of consciousness we call a " dull red 
light " a little greater intensity to another which 
we call a " bright red light ; " increase the inten- 
sity, and the light becomes white ; and, finally, it 
dazzles, and a new state of consciousness arises, 
which we term pain. Given the same wire and 
the same nervous apparatus, and the amount of 
electric force required to give rise to these several 
states of conciousness will be the same, however 
often the experiment is repeated. And as the 
electric force, the light waves, and the nerve- 
vibrations caused by the impact of the light-waves 
on the retina, are all expressions of the molecular 
changes which are taking place in the elements of 
the battery ; so consciousness is, in the same 
sense, an expression of the molecular changes 
which take place in that nervous matter, which is 
the organ of consciousness. 

And, since this, and any number of similar 



164 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

examples that may be required, prove that one 
form of consciousness, at any rate, is, in the 
strictest sense, the expression of molecular change, 
it really is not worth while to pursue the inquiry, 
whether a fact so easily established is consistent with 
any particular system of molecular physics or not. 
Mr. Wallace, in fact, appears to me to have 
mixed up two very distinct propositions : the one, 
the indisputable truth that consciousness is corre- 
lated with molecular changes in the organ of 
consciousness ; the other, that the nature of that 
correlation is known, or can be conceived, which 
is quite another matter. Mr. Wallace, presumably, 
believes in that correlation of phenomena which 
we call cause and effect as firmly as I do. But if 
he has ever been able to form the faintest notion 
how a cause gives rise to its effect, all I can say is 
that I envy him. Take the simplest case imagin- 
able suppose a ball in motion to impinge upon 
another ball at rest. I know very well, as a matter 
of fact, that the ball in motion will communicate 
some of its motion to the ball at rest, and that 
the motion of the two balls, after collision, is 
precisely correlated with the masses of both balls 
and the amount of motion of the first. But how 
does this come about ? In what manner can we 
conceive that the vis viva of the first ball passes 
into the second ? I confess I can no more form 
any conception of what happens in this case, than 
I can of what takes place when the motion of 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 165 

particles of my nervous matter, caused by the 
impact of a similar ball gives rise to the state of 
consciousness I call pain. In ultimate analysis 
everything is incomprehensible, and the whole 
object of science is simply to reduce the funda- 
mental incomprehensibilities to the smallest possi- 
ble number. 

But to return to the Quarterly Reviewer. He 
admits that animals have " mental images of 
sensible objects, combined in all degrees of com- 
plexity, as governed by the laws of association." 
Presumably, by this confused and imperfect state- 
ment the Reviewer means to admit more than the 
words imply. For mental images of sensible 
objects, even though " combined in all degrees of 
complexity," are, and can be, nothing more than 
mental images of sensible objects. But judg- 
ments, emotions, and volitions cannot by any 
possibility be included under the head of " mental 
images of sensible objects." If the greyhound 
had no better mental endowment than the 
Reviewer allows him, he might have the " mental 
image " of the " sensible object " the hare and 
that might be combined with the mental images 
of other sensible objects, to any degree of com- 
plexity, but he would have no power of judging 
it to be at a certain distance from him ; no power 
of perceiving its similarity to his memory of a 
hare ; and no desire to get at it. Consequently 
he would stand stock still, and the noble art of 



1G6 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

coursing would have no existence. On the other 
hand, as that art is largely practised, it follows 
that greyhounds alone possess a number of mental 
powers, the existence of which, in any animal, is 
absolutely denied by the Quarterly Reviewer. 

Finally, what are the mental powers which he 
reserves as the especial prerogative of man ? 
They are two. First, the recognition of " our- 
selves by ourselves as affected and perceiving. 
Self-consciousness." 

Secondly. " The reflection upon our sensations 
and perceptions, and asking what they are and 
why they are. Reason." 

To the faculty defined in the last sentence, the 
Reviewer, without assigning the least ground for 
thus departing from both common usage and 
technical propriety, applies the name of reason. 
But if man is not to be considered a reasoning 
being, unless he asks what his sensations and per- 
ceptions are, and why they are, what is a Hot- 
tentot, or an Australian " black-fellow " ; or what 
the " swinked hedger " of an ordinary agricultural 
district ? Nay, what becomes of an average 
country squire or parson ? How many of these 
worthy persons who, as their wont is, read the 
Quarterly Review, would do other than stand 
agape, if you asked them whether they had ever 
reflected what their sensations and perceptions 
are and why they are ? 

S<> that if the Reviewer's new definition of rea- 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 167 

son be correct, the majority of men, even among the 
most civilised nations, are devoid of that supreme 
characteristic of manhood. And if it be as absurd 
as I believe it to be, then, as reason is certainly not 
self-consciousness, and since it, as certainly, is one of 
the " actions to which the nervous system minis- 
ters," we must, if the Reviewer's classification is 
to be adapted, seek it among those four faculties 
which he allows animals to possess. And thus, for 
the second time, he really surrenders, while seem- 
ing to defend, his position. 

The Quarterly Reviewer, as we have seen, 
lectures the evolutionists upon their want of know- 
ledge of philosophy altogether. Mr. Mivart is not 
less pained at Mr. Darwin's ignorance of moral 
science. It is grievous to him that Mr. Darwin 
(and no%s autres) should not have grasped the 
elementary distinction between material and formal 
morality ; and he lays down as an axiom, of which 
no tyro ought to be ignorant, the position that 
" acts, unaccompanied by mental acts of conscious 
will directed towards the fulfilment of duty," are 
" absolutely destitute of the most incipient degree 
of real or formal goodness." 

Now this may be Mr. Mivart's opinion, but it is 
a proposition which really does not stand on the 
footing of an undisputed axiom. Mr. Mill denies 
it in his work on Utilitarianism. The most in- 
fluential writer of a totally opposed school, Mr. 
Carlyle, is never weary of denying it, and upholding 

40 



168 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

the merit of that virtue which is unconscious; 
nay, it is, to my understanding, extremely hard to 
reconcile Mr. Mivart's dictum with that noble sum- 
mary of the whole duty of man " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all 
thy soul, and with all thy strength : and thou shalt 
love thy neighbour as thyself." According to Mr. 
Mivart's definition, the man who loves God and his 
neighbour, and, out of sheer love and affection for 
both, does all he can to please them, is, neverthe- 
less, destitute of a particle of real goodness. 

And it further happens that Mr. Darwin, who is 
charged by Mr. Mivart with being ignorant of the 
distinction between material and formal goodness, 
discusses the very question at issue in a passage 
which is well worth reading (vol. i. p. 87), and also 
comes to a conclusion opposed to Mr. Mivart's 
axiom. A proposition which has been so much 
disputed and repudiated, should, under no circum- 
stances, have been thus confidently assumed to be 
true. For myself, I utterly reject it, inasmuch as 
the logical consequence of the adoption of any such 
principle is the denial of all moral value to 
sympathy and affection. According to Mr. Mivart's 
axiom, the man who, seeing another struggling in 
the water, leaps in at the risk of his own life to 
save him, does that which is " destitute of the most 
incipient degree of real goodness," unless, as he 
strips off his coat, he says to himself, " Now, mind, 
I am going to do this because it is my duty and 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 169 

for no other reason ; " and the most beautiful 
character to which humanity can attain, that of the 
man who does good without thinking about it, be- 
cause he loves justice and mercy and is repelled 
by evil, has no claim on our moral approbation. 
The denial that a man acts morally because he does 
not think whether he does so or not, may be put 
upon the same footing as the denial of the title of 
an arithmetician to the calculating boy, because he 
did not know how he worked his sums. If man- 
kind ever generally accept and act upon Mr. 
Mivart's axiom, they will simply become a set of 
most unendurable prigs ; but they never have ac- 
cepted it, and I venture to hope that evolution has 
nothing so terrible in store for the human race. 

But if an action, the motive of which is nothing 
but affection or sympathy, may be deserving of 
moral approbation and really good, who that has 
ever had a dog of his own will deny that animals 
are capable of such actions ? Mr. Mivart indeed 
says : " It may be safely affirmed, however, that 
there is no trace in brutes of any actions simulat- 
ing morality which are not explicable by the fear 
of punishment, by the hope of pleasure, or by per- 
sonal affection " (p. 221). But it may be affirmed, 
with equal truth, that there is no trace in men of 
any actions which are not traceable to the same 
motives. If a man does anything, he does it 
either because he fears to be punished if he does 
not do it, or because he hopes to obtain pleasure 



170 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

by doing it, or because he gratifies his affections 1 
by doing it. 

Assuming the position of the absolute moralists, 
let it be granted that there is a perception of right 
and wrong innate in every man. This means, 
simply, that when certain ideas are presented to 
his mind, the feeling of approbation arises ; and 
when certain others, the feeling of disapprobation. 
To do your duty is to earn the approbation of your 
conscience, or moral sense ; to fail in your duty is 
to feel its disapprobation, as we all say. Now, is 
approbation a pleasure or a pain? Surely a 
pleasure. And is disapprobation a pleasure or a 
pain ? Surely a pain. Consequently, all that is 
really meant by the absolute moralists is that there 
is, in the very nature of man, something which 
enables him to be conscious of these particular 
pleasures and pains. And when they talk of immut- 
able and eternal principles of morality, the only in- 
telligible sense which I can put upon the words, is 
that the nature of man being what it is, he always 
has been, and always will be, capable of feeling these 
particular pleasures and pains. A priori, I have 
nothing to say against this proposition. Admitting 
its truth, I do not see how the moral faculty is on 
a different footing from any of the other faculties 
of man. If I choose to say that it is an immutable 

1 In separating pleasure and the gratification of affection, I 
simply follow Mr. Mivart without admitting the justice of the 
separation. 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 171 

and eternal law of human nature that " ginger is 
hot in the mouth," the assertion has as much 
foundation of truth as the other, though I think 
it would be expressed in needlessly pompous 
language. I must confess that I have never been 
able to understand why there should be such a 
bitter quarrel between the intuitionists and the 
utilitarians. The intuitionist is, after all, only a 
utilitarian who believes that a particular class of 
pleasures and pains has an especial importance, by 
reason of its foundation in the nature of man, and 
its inseparable connection with his very existence 
as a thinking being. And as regards the motive 
of personal affection : Love, as Spinoza profoundly 
says, is the association of pleasure with that which 
is loved. 1 Or, to put it to the common sense of 
mankind, is the gratification of affection a pleasure 
or a pain ? Surely a pleasure. So that whether 
the motive which leads us to perform an action 
is the love of our neighbour, or the love of God, it 
is undeniable that pleasure enters into that motive. 
Thus much in reply to Mr. Mivart's arguments. 
I cannot but think that it is to be regretted that 
he ekes them out by ascribing to the doctrines of 
the philosophers with whom he does not agree, 
logical consequences which have been over and 
over again proved not to flow from them : and when 
reason fails him, tries the effect of an injurious 

1 " Nempe, Amor nihil aliud est, quam Lsetitia, concomitante 
ideacausBeexternae." Ethices, III. xiii. 



172 ME. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

nickname. According to the views of Mr. Spencer, 
Mr. Mill, and Mr. Darwin, Mr. Mivart tells 
us, " virtue is a mere kind of retrieving : " and, 
that we may not miss the point of the joke, he 
puts it in italics. But what if it is ? Does that 
make it less virtue ? Suppose I say that sculp- 
ture is a " mere way " of stone-cutting, and 
painting a " mere way " of daubing canvas, and 
music a " mere way " of making a noise, the 
statements are quite true ; but they only show 
that I see no other method of depreciating some 
of the noblest aspects of humanity than that of 
using language in an inadequate and misleading 
sense about them. And the peculiar inappro- 
priateness of this particular nickname to the views 
in question, arises from the circumstance which 
Mr. Mivart would doubtless have recollected, if his 
wish to ridicule had not for the moment obscured 
his judgment that whether the law of evolution 
applies to man or not, that of hereditary transmis- 
sion certainly does. Mr. Mivart will hardly deny 
that a man owes a large share of the moral 
tendencies which he exhibits to his ancestors ; and 
the man who inherits a desire to steal from a 
kleptomaniac, or a tendency to benevolence from a 
Howard, is, so far as he illustrates hereditary 
transmission, comparable to the dog who inherits 
the desire to fetch a duck out of the water from 
his retrieving sire. So that, evolution, or no 
evolution, moral qualities are comparable to a 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 173 

"kind of retrieving;" though the comparison, if 
meant for the purposes of casting obloquy on 
evolution, does not say much for the fairness of 
those who make it. 

The Quarterly Eeviewer and Mr. Mivart base 
their objections to the evolution of the mental facul- 
ties of man from those of some lower animal form 
upon what they maintain to be a difference in kind 
between the mental and moral faculties of men and 
brutes ; and I have endeavoured to show, by exposing 
the utter unsoundness of their philosophical basis, 
that these objections are devoid of importance. 

The objections which Mr. -Wallace brings for- 
ward to the doctrine of the evolution of the mental 
faculties of man from those of brutes by natural 
causes, are of a different order, and require 
separate consideration. 

If I understand him rightly, he by no means 
doubts that both the bodily and the mental facul- 
ties of man have been evolved from those of 
some lower animal ; but he is of opinion that 
some agency beyond that which has been con- 
cerned in the evolution of ordinary animals has 
been operative in the case of man. " A superior 
intelligence has guided the development of man 
in a definite direction and for a special purpose, 
just as man guides the development of many 
animal and vegetable forms." l I understand this 

1 "The Limits of Natural Selection as applied to Man" (loc. 
ctt. p. 359). 



174 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

to mean that, just as the rock-pigeon has been 
produced by natural causes, while the evolution of 
the tumbler from the blue rock has required the 
special intervention of the intelligence of man, so 
some anthropoid form may have been evolved by 
variation and natural selection ; but it could never 
have given rise to man, unless some superior intel- 
ligence had played the part of the pigeon-fancier. 
According to Mr. Wallace, " whether we com- 
pare the savage with the higher developments of 
man, or with the brutes around him, we are alike 
driven to the conclusion, that, in his large and 
well-developed brain, he possesses an organ quite 
disproportioned to his requirements" (p. 343); 
and he asks, " What is there in the life of the 
savage but the satisfying of the cravings of ap- 
petite in the simplest and easiest way ? What 
thoughts, idea, or actions are there that raise him 
many grades above the elephant or the ape ? " 
(p. 342.) I answer Mr. Wallace by citing a re- 
markable passage which occurs in his instructive 
paper on " Instinct in Man and Animals." 

"Savages make long journeys in many directions, and, their 
whole faculties being directed to the subject, they gain a wide 
and accurate knowledge of the topography, not only of their 
own district, but of all the regions round about. Every one 
who has travelled in a new direction communicates his know- 
ledge to those who have travelled less, and descriptions of routes 
and localities, and minute incidents of travel, form one of the 
main staples of conversation around the evening fire. Every 
wanderer or captive from another tribe adds to the store of 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 175 

information, and, as the very existence of individuals and of 
whole families and tribes depends upon the completeness of this 
knowledge, all the acute perceptive faculties of the adult savage 
are directed to acquiring and perfecting it. The good hunter or 
warrior thus comes to know the bearing of every hill and moun- 
tain range, the directions and junctions of all the streams, the 
situation of each tract characterised by peculiar vegetation, not 
only within the area he has himself traversed, but perhaps for 
a hundred miles around it. His acute observation enables him 
to detect the slightest undulations of the surface, the various 
changes of subsoil and alterations in the character of the vegeta- 
tion that would be quite imperceptible to a stranger. His eye is 
always open to the direction in which he is going ; the mossy 
side of trees, the presence of certain plants under the shade of 
rocks, the morning and evening flight of birds, are to him 
indications of direction almost as sure as the sun in the heavens " 
(pp. 207, 208). 

I have seen enough of savages to be able to 
declare that nothing can be more admirable than 
this description of what a savage has to learn. 
But it is incomplete. Add to all this the know- 
ledge which a savage is obliged to gain of the 
properties of plants, of the characters and habits 
of animals, and of the minute indications by which 
their course is discoverable : consider that even an 
Australian can make excellent baskets and nets, 
and neatly fitted and beautifully balanced spears ; 
that he learns to use these so as to be able to 
transfix a quartern loaf at sixty yards ; and that 
very often, as in the case of the American Indians, 
the language of a savage exhibits complexities 
which a well-trained European finds it difficult to 
master : consider that every time a savage tracks 



176 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

his game he employs a minuteness of observation, 
and an accuracy of inductive and deductive reason- 
ing which, applied to other matters, would assure 
some reputation to a man of science, and I think 
we need ask no further why he possesses such a 
fair supply of brains. In complexity and difficulty, 
I should say that the intellectual labour of a " good 
hunter or warrior " considerably exceeds that of 
an ordinary Englishman. The Civil Service Ex- 
aminers are held in great terror by young English- 
men ; but even their ferocity never tempted them 
to require a candidate to possess such a knowledge 
of a parish as Mr. Wallace justly points out 
savages may possess of an area a hundred miles 
or more in diameter. 

But suppose, for the sake of argument, that a 
savage has more brains than seems proportioned 
to his wants, all that can be said is that the objec- 
tion to natural selection, if it be one, applies quite 
as strongly to the lower animals. The brain of a 
porpoise is quite wonderful for its mass, and for the 
development of the cerebral convolutions. And 
yet since we have ceased to credit the story of 
Arion, it is hard to believe that porpoises are much 
troubled with intellect : and still more difficult is 
it to imagine that their big brains are only a pre- 
paration for the advent of some accomplished 
cetacean of the future. Surely, again, a wolf must 
have too much brains, or else how is it that a dog 
with only the same quantity and form of brain is 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 177 

able to develop such singular intelligence ? The 
wolf stands to the dog in the same relation as the 
savage to the man ; and, therefore, if Mr. Wallace's 
doctrine holds good, a higher power must have 
superintended the breeding up of wolves from 
some inferior stock, in order to prepare them to 
become dogs. 

Mr. Wallace further maintains that the origin 
of some of man's mental faculties by the preserva- 
tion of useful variations is not possible. Such, 
for example, are " the capacity to form ideal con- 
ceptions of space and time, of eternity and infin- 
ity; the capacity for intense artistic feelings of 
pleasure in form, colour, and composition ; and for 
those abstract notions of form and number which 
render geometry and arithmetic possible." " How," 
he asks, " were all or any of these faculties first 
developed, when they could have been of no pos- 
sible use to man in his early stages of barbarism ? " 

Surely the answer is not far to seek. The 
lowest savages are as devoid of any such concep- 
tions as the brutes themselves. What sort of 
conceptions of space and time, of form and num- 
ber, can be possessed by a savage who has not got 
so far as to be able to count beyond five or six, who 
does not know how to draw a triangle or a circle, 
and has not the remotest notion of separating the 
particular quality we call form, from the other 
qualities of bodies ? None of these capacities are 
exhibited by men, unless they form part of a 



178 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

tolerably advanced society. And, in such a society, 
there are abundant conditions by which a selective 
influence is exerted in favour of those persons who 
exhibit an approximation towards the possession 
of these capacities. 

The savage who can amuse his fellows by telling 
a good story over the nightly fire, is held by them 
in esteem and rewarded, in one way or another, 
for so doing in other words, it is an advantage to 
him to possess this power. He who can carve a 
paddle, or the figure-head of a canoe better, 
similarly profits beyond his duller neighbour. He 
who counts a little better than others, gets most 
yams when barter is going on, and forms the 
shrewdest estimate of the numbers of an opposing 
tribe. The experience of daily life shows that the 
conditions of our present social existence exercise 
the most extraordinarily powerful selective influence 
in favour of novelists, artists, and strong intellects 
of all kinds ; and it seems unquestionable that all 
forms of social existence must have had the same 
tendency, if we consider the indisputable facts that 
even animals possess the power of distinguishing 
form and number, and that they are capable of 
deriving pleasure from particular forms and 
sounds. If we admit, as Mr. Wallace does, that 
the lowest savages are not raised " many grades 
above the elephant and the ape ; " and if we 
further admit, as I contend must be admitted, that 
the conditions of social life tend, powerfully, to 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 179 

give an advantage to those individuals who 
vary in the direction of intellectual or aesthetic 
excellence, what is there to interfere with the 
belief that these higher faculties, like the rest, owe 
their development to natural selection ? 

Finally, with respect to the development of the 
moral sense out of the simple feelings of pleasure 
and pain, liking and disliking, with which the 
lower animals are provided, I can find nothing in 
Mr. Wallace's reasonings which has not already 
been met by Mr. Mill, Mr. Spencer, or Mr. 
Darwin. 

I do not propose to follow the Quarterly 
Reviewer and Mr. Mivart through the long string 
of objections in matters of detail which they 
bring against Mr. Darwin's views. Every one who 
has considered the matter carefully will be able to 
ferret out as many more " difficulties " ; but he 
will also, I believe, fail as completely as they 
appear to me to have done, in bringing forward 
any fact which is really contradictory of Mr. 
Darwin's views. Occasionally, too, their objections 
and criticisms are based upon errors of their own. 
As, for example, when Mr. Mivart and the 
Quarterly Reviewer insist upon the resemblances 
between the eyes of Cephalopoda and Vertebrata, 
quite forgetting that there are striking and alto- 
gether fundamental differences between them ; or 
when the Quarterly Reviewer corrects Mr. Darwin 



180 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

for saying that the gibbons, " without having been 
taught, can walk or run upright with tolerable 
quickness, though they move awkwardly, and much 
less securely than man." The Quarterly Reviewer 
says, " This is a little misleading, inasmuch as it is 
not stated that this upright progression is effected 
by placing the enormously long arms behind the 
head, or holding them out backwards as a balance 
in progression." 

Now, before carping at a small statement like 
this, the Quarterly Reviewer should have made 
sure that he was quite right. But he happens to 
be quite wrong. I suspect he got his notion of 
the manner in which a gibbon walks from a citation 
in " Man's Place in Nature." But at that time I 
had not seen a gibbon walk. Since then I have, 
and I can testify that nothing can be more precise 
than Mr. Darwin's statement. The gibbon I saw 
walked without either putting his arms behind 
his head or holding them out backwards. All he 
did was to touch the ground with the outstretched 
fingers of his long arms now and then, just as one 
sees a man who carries a stick, but does not need 
one, touch the ground with it as he walks along. 

Again, a large number of the objections brought 
forward by Mr. Mivart and the Quarterly Reviewer 
apply to evolution in general, quite as much as to 
the particular form of that doctrine advocated by 
Mr. Darwin ; or, to their notions of Mr. Darwin's 
views and not to what they really are. An excel- 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 181 

lent example of this class of difficulties is to be 
found in Mr. Mivart's chapter on " Independent 
Similarities of Structure." Mr. Mivart says that 
these cannot be explained by an " absolute and 
pure Darwinian," but " that an innate power and 
evolutionary law, aided by the corrective action 
of natural selection, should have furnished like 
needs with like aids, is not at all improbable " 
(p. 82). 

I do not exactly know what Mr. Mivart means 
by an " absolute and pure Darwinian ; " indeed 
Mr. Mivart makes that creature hold so many 
singular opinions that I doubt if I can ever have 
seen one alive. But I find nothing in his 
statement of the view which he imagines to be 
originated by himself, which is really inconsistent 
with what I understand to be Mr. Darwin's views. 

I apprehend that the foundation of the theory 
of natural selection is the fact that living bodies 
tend incessantly to vary. This variation is neither 
indefinite, nor fortuitous, nor does it take place in 
all directions, in the strict sense of these words. 

Accurately speaking, it is not indefinite, nor 
does it take place in all directions, because it is 
limited by the general characters of the type to 
which the organism exhibiting the variation 
belongs. A whale does not tend to vary in the 
direction of producing feathers, nor a bird in the 
direction of developing whalebone. In popular 
language there is no harm in saying that the 



182 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

waves which break upon the sea-shore are inde- 
finite, fortuitous, and break in all directions. In 
scientific language, on the contrary, such a state- 
ment would be a gross error, inasmuch as every 
particle of foam is the result of perfectly definite 
forces, operating according to no less definite laws. 
In like manner, every variation of a living form, 
however minute, however apparently accidental, is 
inconceivable except as the expression of the 
operation of molecular forces or " powers " resident 
within the organism. And, as these forces certainly 
operate according to definite laws, their general 
result is, doubtless, in accordance with some general 
law which subsumes them all. And there appears 
to be no objection to call this an " evolutionary 
law." But nobody is the wiser for doing so, or has 
thereby contributed, in the least degree, to the 
advance of the doctrine of evolution, the great 
need of which is a theory of variation. 

When Mr. Mivart tells us that his "aim has 
been to support the doctrine that these species 
have been evolved by ordinary natural laws (for 
the most part unknown), aided by the subordinate 
action of ' natural selection ' " (pp. 332-3), he seems 
to be of opinion that his enterprise has the merit 
of novelty. All I can say is that I have never had 
the slightest notion that Mr. Darwin's aim is in 
any way different from this. If I affirm that 
" species have been evolved by variation l (a natural 
1 Including under this head hereditary transmission. 



v ME. DARWIN'S CRITICS 183 

process, the laws of which are for the most part 
unknown), aided by the subordinate action of 
natural selection," it seems to me that I enunciate 
a proposition which constitutes the very pith and 
marrow of the first edition of the " Origin of 
Species." And what the evolutionist stands in 
need of just now, is not an iteration of the funda- 
mental principle of Darwinism, but some light 
upon the questions, What are the limits of varia- 
tion ? and, If a variety has arisen, can that variety 
be perpetuated, or even intensified, when selective 
conditions are indifferent, or perhaps unfavourable 
to its existence ? I cannot find that Mr. Darwin 
has ever been very dogmatic in answering these 
questions. Formerly, he seems to have inclined 
to reply to them in the negative, while now his 
inclination is the other way. Leaving aside those 
broad questions of theology, philosophy, and 
ethics, by the discussion of which neither the 
Quarterly Reviewer nor Mr. Mivart can be said to 
have damaged Darwinism whatever else they 
have injured this is what their criticisms come 
to. They confound a struggle for some rifle-pits 
with an assault on the fortress. 

In some respects, finally, I can only characterise 
the Quarterly Reviewer's treatment of Mr. Darwin 
as alike unjust and unbecoming. Language of 
this strength requires justification, and on that 
ground I add the remarks which follow. 

The Quarterly Reviewer opens his essay by a 

41 



184 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

careful enumeration of all those points upon which, 
during the course of thirteen years of incessant 
labour, Mr. Darwin has modified his opinions. It 
has often and justly been remarked, that what 
strikes a candid student of Mr. Darwin's works is 
not so much his industry, his knowledge, or even 
the surprising fertility of his inventive genius ; 
but that unswerving truthfulness and honesty 
which never permit him to hide a weak place, or 
gloss over a difficulty, but lead him, on all occa- 
sions, to point out the weak places in his own 
armour, and even sometimes, it appears to me, to 
make admissions against himself which are quite 
unnecessary. A critic who desires to attack Mr. 
Darwin has only to read his works with a desire to 
observe, not their merits, but their defects, and he 
will find, ready to hand, more adverse suggestions 
than are likely ever to have suggested themselves 
to his own sharpness, without Mr. Darwin's self- 
denying aid. 

Now this quality of scientific candour is not so 
common that it needs to be discouraged ; and it 
appears to me to deserve other treatment than 
that adopted by the Quarterly Reviewer, who deals 
with Mr. Darwin as. an Old Bailey barrister deals 
with a man against whom he wishes to obtain a 
conviction, per fas aut nefas, and opens his case 
by endeavouring to create a prejudice against the 
prisoner in the minds of the jury. In his eager- 
ness to carry out this laudable design, the Quarterly 



v MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS 185 

Reviewer cannot even state the history of the 
doctrine of natural selection without an oblique 
and entirely unjustifiable attempt to depreciate 
Mr. Darwin. " To Mr. Darwin," says he, " and 
(through Mr. Wallace's reticence) to Mr. Darwin 
alone, is due the credit of having first brought it 
prominently forward and demonstrated its truth." 
No one can less desire than I do, to throw a doubt 
upon Mr. Wallace's originality, or to question his 
claim to the honour of being one of the originators 
of the doctrine of natural selection ; but the state- 
ment that Mr. Darwin has the sole credit of 
originating the doctrine because of Mr. Wallace's 
reticence is simply ridiculous. The proof of this 
is, in the first place, afforded by Mr. Wallace him- 
self, whose noble freedom from petty jealousy in 
this matter smaller folk would do well to imitate, 
and who writes thus : " I have felt all my life, 
and I still feel, the most sincere satisfaction 
that Mr. Darwin had been at work long before 
me and that it was not left for me to attempt to 
write the ' Origin of Species.' I have long since 
measured my own strength, and know well that it 
would be quite unequal to that task." So that if 
there was any reticence at all in the matter, it was 
Mr. Darwin's reticence during the long twenty 
years of study which intervened between the con- 
ception and the publication of his theory, which 
gave Mr. Wallace the chance of being an indepen- 
dent discoverer of the importance of natural 



186 MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS v 

selection. And, finally, if it be recollected that 
Mr. Darwin's and Mr. Wallace's essays were 
published simultaneously in the " Journal of the 
Linnaean Society " for 1858, it follows that the 
Reviewer, while obliquely depreciating Mr. Dar- 
win's deserts, has in reality awarded to him a 
priority which, in legal strictness, does not exist. 
Mr. Mivart, whose opinions so often concur with 
those of the Quarterly Reviewer, puts the case in 
a way, which I much regret to be obliged to say, 
is, in my judgment, quite as incorrect ; though 
the injustice may be less glaring. He says that 
the theory of natural selection is, in general, ex- 
clusively associated with the name of Mr. Darwin, 
" on account of the noble self-abnegation of Mr. 
Wallace." As I have said, no one can honour Mr. 
Wallace more than I do, both for what he has 
done and for what he has not done, in his relation 
to Mr. Darwin. And perhaps nothing is more 
creditable to him than his frank declaration that 
he could not have written such a work as the 
" Origin of Species." But, by this declaration, the 
person most directly interested in the matter re- 
pudiates, by anticipation, Mr. Mivart's suggestion 
that Mr. Darwin's eminence is more or less due to 
Mr. Wallace's modesty. 



VI 
EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 

[1878] 

IN the former half of the eighteenth century, the 
term " evolution " was introduced into biological 
writings, in order to denote the mode in which 
some of the most eminent physiologists of that time 
conceived that the generations of living things took 
place ; in opposition to the hypothesis advocated, 
in the preceding century, by Harvey in that re- 
markable work ! which would give him a claim to 
rank among the founders of biological science, even 
had he not been the discoverer of the circulation 
of the blood. 

One of Harvey's prime objects is to defend and 
establish, on the basis of direct observation, the 
opinion already held by Aristotle ; that, in the 
higher animals at any rate, the formation of the 

1 The Exercitationes de Gcneratione Animalium, which Dr 
George Ent extracted from him and published in 1651. 



188 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

new organism by the process of generation takes 
place, not suddenly, by simultaneous accretion of 
rudiments of all, or of the most important, of the 
organs of the adult ; nor by sudden metamorphosis 
of a formative substance into a miniature of the 
whole, which subsequently grows ; but by cpiyenesis, 
or successive differentiation of a relatively homo- 
geneous rudiment into the parts and structures 
which are characteristic of the adult. 



' ' Et primo, quidem, quoniam per epigenesin sive partium 
superexorientium additanientum pullum fabricari certum est : 
qusenam pars ante alias omnes exstruatur, et quid de ilia ejusque 
generandi modo observandum veniat, dispicieruus. Ratum sane 
est et in ovo manifesto apparet quod Aristoteles de perfectorum 
animalium generatione enuntiat : nimirum, non omnes partes 
simul fieri, sed ordine aliam post aliam ; primumque existere 
particulam genitalem, cujus virtute postea (tanquam ex principio 
quodam) reliquaj omnes partes prosiliant. Qualem in plantarum 
seminibus (fabis, puta, aut glandibus) gemmam sive apicem pro- 
tuberantem cernimus, totius futurse arboris principium. Estque 
hone particula, veliit filius cmancipatus seorsumque collocatus, et 
principium per se vivens ; unde postea membrorum ordo describ- 
itur ; et qucecunque ad absolvcndum animal pertinent, dispon- 
untur. 1 Quoniam enim nulla pars se ipsam general; sed post- 
quam generata est, se ipsam jam auget ; ideo earn primum o-riri 
necesse est, quce principium augendi contineat (sive enim planta, 
sive animal est, ceque omnibus inest quod vim habcat vcgetandi, 
sive nutriendi), 2 simulque reliquas omnes partes suo quamque 
ordine distinguat et formet ; proindeque in eadem primogenita 
particula anima primario inest, sensus, motusque, et totius vitae 
auctor et principium." (Exercitatio 51.) 



1 De Generatione Animalium, lib. ii. cap. x. 

2 De Generatione, lib. ii. cap. iv. 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 189 

Harvey proceeds to contrast this view with that 
of the " Medici," or followers of Hippocrates and 
Galen, who, " badly philosophising," imagined that 
the brain, the heart, and the liver were simul- 
taneously first generated in the form of vesicles ; 
and, at the same time, while expressing his 
agreement with Aristotle in the principle of epi- 
genesis, he maintains that it is the blood which is 
the primal generative part, and not, as Aristotle 
thought, the heart. 

In the latter part of the seventeenth century, 
the doctrine of epigenesis, thus advocated by 
Harvey, was controverted, on the ground of direct 
observation, by Malpighi, who affirmed that the 
body of the chick is to be seen in the egg, before 
the punctum sanguineum makes it appearance. 
But, from this perfectly correct observation a con- 
clusion which is by no means warranted was drawn ; 
namely, that the chick, as a whole, really exists in 
the egg antecedently to incubation ; and that what 
happens in the course of the latter process is no 
addition of new parts, " alias post alias natas," as 
Harvey puts it, but a simple expansion, or unfold- 
ing, of the organs which already exist, though they 
are too small and inconspicuous to be discovered. 
The weight of Malpighi's observations therefore 
fell into the scale of that doctrine which Harvey 
terms metamorphosis, in contradistinction to epi- 
genesis. 

The views of Malphigi were warmly welcomed, 



190 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

on philosophical grounds, by Leibnitz, 1 who found 
in them a support to his hypothesis of monads, 
and by Malebranche ; 2 while, in the middle of the 
eighteenth century, not only speculative consider- 
ations, but a great number of new and interesting 
observations on the phenomena of generation, led 
the ingenious Bonnet, and Haller, 3 the first physi- 
ologist of the age, to adopt, advocate, and extend 
them. 

1 "Cependant, pour revenir aux formes ordinaires ou aux 
ames materielles, cette duree qu'il leur fuut attribuer a la place 
de celle qu'on avoit attribute aux atomes pourroit faire douter 
si elles ne vont pas de corps en corps ; ce qui seroit la me- 
tempsychose, a pen pres comme quelques philosophes ont cru la 
transmission du mouvement et celle des especes. Mais cette 
imagination est bien eloignee de la nature des choses. II n'y a 
point de tel passage ; et c'est ici ou les transformations de 
Messieurs Swammerdam, Malpighi, et Leewenhoek, qui sont 
des plus excellens ob.servateurs de notre terns, sont venues a mon 
secours, et m'ont fait admettre plus aisement, que 1'animal, et 
toute autre substance organisee ne commence point lorsque nous 
le croyons, et que sa generation apparente n'est qu'une de- 
veloppement et une espece d'augmentation. Aussi ai je remarque 
que 1'auteur de la Recherche de la Verite, M. Regis, M. Hart- 
soeker, et d'autres habiles hommes n'ont pas ete fort eloignes 
de ce sentiment." Leibnitz, Systemc Nouveau de la Nature, 
1695. The doctrine of "Emboitement " is contained in the 
Considerations sur le Principe de Vie, 1705 ; the preface to the 
Theodicec, 1710 ; and the Principes de la Nature et de la Grace 
( 6), 1718. 

2 " II est vrai que la pensee la plus raisonnable et la plus 
conforme a 1'experience sur cette question tres difficile de la 
formation du foetus ; c'est que les enfans sont deja presque tout 
formes avant meme 1'action par laquelle ils sont consus ; et que 
leurs meres ne font que leur donner 1'accroissement ordinaire 
dans le temps de la grossesse. " De la Recherche de la Vcrite, 
livre ii. chap. vii. p. 334, 7th ed., 1721. 

3 The writer is indebted to Dr. Allen Thomson for reference 
to the evidence contained in a note to Haller's edition of Boer- 
haave's Prcelectiones Acadcmicce, vol. v. pt. ii. p. 497, published 
in 1744, that Haller originally advocated epigenesis. 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 191 

Bonnet affirms that, before fecundation, the hen's 
egg contains an excessively minute but complete 
chick ; and that fecundation and incubation simply 
cause this germ to absorb nutritious matters, which 
are deposited in the interstices of the elementary 
structures of which the miniature chick, or germ, 
is made up. The consequence of this intussuscep- 
tive growth is the " development " or "evolution" 
of the germ into the visible bird. Thus an organ- 
ised individual (tout organist) " is a composite body 
consisting of the original, or elementary, parts and 
of the mattei's which have been associated with 
them by the aid of nutrition ; " so that, if these 
matters could be extracted from the individual 
(tout), it would, so to speak, become concentrated 
in a point, and would thus be restored to its 
primitive condition of a germ ; "just as by extract- 
ing from a bone the calcareous substance which is 
the source of its hardness, it is reduced to its 
primitive state of gristle or membrane." l 

"Evolution" and "development" are, for 
Bonnet, synonymous terms ; and since by " evolu- 
tion " he means simply the expansion of that 
which was invisible into visibility, he was natur- 
ally led to the conclusion, at which Leibnitz had 
arrived by a different line of reasoning, that no 
such thing as generation, in the proper sense of 
the word, exists in Nature. The growth of an 

1 Considerations sur les Corps organists, chap. x. 



192 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

organic being is simply a process of enlargement 
as a particle of dry gelatine may be swelled 
up by the intussusception of water; its death 
is a shrinkage, such as the swelled jelly might 
undergo on desiccation. Nothing really new is 
produced in the living world, but the germs which 
develop have existed since the beginning of things ; 
and nothing really dies, but, when what we call 
death takes place, the living thing shrinks back 
into its germ state. 1 

The two parts of Bonnet's hypothesis, namely, 
the doctrine that all living things proceed from 
pre-existing germs, and that these contain, one 

1 Bonnet had the courage of his opinions, and in the 
Palingtntsic Philosophique, part vi. chap, iv., he develops a 
hypothesis which he terms "Evolution naturelle ; " and which, 
making allowance for his peculiar views of the nature of 
generation, bears no small resemblance to what is understood 
by "evolution" at the present day : 

" Si la volonte divine a cree par un seul Acte 1' Universality 
des etres, d'ou venoient ces plantes et ces animaux dont iloyse 
nous decrit la Production au troisieme et au cinquieme jour du 
renouvellement de notre monde ? 

" Abuserois-je de la liberte de conjectures si je disois, que les 
Plantes et les Animaux qui existent aujourd'hui sont parvenus 
par une sorte d'evolution naturelle des Etres organises qui 
peuplaient ce premier Monde, sorti immediatement des MAINS 
du CREATEUR ? . . . 

' ' Ne supposons que trois revolutions. La Terre vient de sortir 
des MAINS du CREATEUR. Des causes preparees par sa SAGESSE 
font developper de toutes parts les Gernies. Les Etres organises 
commencent a jouir de 1'existence. Us etoient probablement 
alors bien differens de ce qu'ils sont aujourd'hui. Us 1'etoient 
autant que ce premier Monde differoit de celui que nous habitons. 
Nous manquons de moyens pour juger de ces dissemblances, 
et peut-etre que le plus habile Naturaliste qui auroit ete place 
dans ce premier Monde y auroit entierement meconnu nos Plantea 
et nos Animaux." 



Vi EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 193 

inclosed within the other, the germs of all future 
living things, which is the liypothesis of " emboite- 
mcnt ; " and the doctrine that every germ contains 
in miniature all the organs of the adult, which is 
the hypothesis of evolution or development, in the 
primary senses of these words, must be carefully 
distinguished. In fact, while holding firmly by 
the former, Bonnet more or less modified the 
latter in his later writings, and, at length, he 
admits that a "germ" need not be an actual 
miniature of the organism ; but that it may be 
merely an " original preformation " capable of 
producing the latter. 1 

But, thus defined, the germ is neither more nor 
less than the " particula genitalis " of Aristotle, 
or the " primordium vegetale " or " ovum " of 
Harvey ; and the " evolution " of such a germ 
would not be distinguishable from " epigenesis." 

Supported by the great authority of Haller, the 
doctrine of evolution, or development, prevailed 
throughout the whole of the eighteenth century, 
and Cuvier appears to have substantially adopted 
Bonnet's later views, though probably he would 
not have gone all lengths in the direction of 
" emboitement." In a well-known note to 
Laurillard's " loge," prefixed to the last edition 

1 "Ce mot (germe) ne designera pas seulement un corps 
organise riduil en petit ; il designera encore toute espece de pr6- 
formation originelle dont un Tout organique pent risulter comme 
de son principc immtdiat." Paliwjinisie Philosophic-lie, part x. 
chap. ii. 



194 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

of the " Ossemens fossiles," the " radical de 1'etre " 
is much the same thing as Aristotle's " particula 
genitalis " and Harvey's " ovum." l 

Bonnet's eminent contemporary, Buffon, held 
nearly the same views with respect to the nature 
of the germ, and expresses them even more con- 
fidently. 

" Ceux qui ontcru que le cceur etoit le premier forme, se sont 
trompes ; ceux qui disent que c'est le sang se trompent aussi : 
tout est forme en meme temps. Si Ton ne consulte que 1'obser- 
vation, le poulet se voit dans 1'ceuf avant qu'il ait etc couve." 2 

"J'ai ouvert une grande quantite d'ceufs a differens temps 
avant et apres 1'incubation, et je me suis convaincu par mes 
yeux que le poulet existe en entier dans le milieu de la cicatricule 
au moment qu'il sort du corps de la poule." 3 

The " moule interieur " of Buffon is the aggre- 
gate of elementary parts which constitute the 
individual, and is thus the equivalent of Bonnet's 
germ, 4 as defined in the passage cited above. 
But Buffon further imagined that innumerable 
" molecules organiques " are dispersed throughout 
the world, and that alimentation consists in the 

1 " M. Cuvier considerant que tons les etres organises sont 
derives de parens, et ne voyant dans la nature aucune force 
capable de produire 1'organisation, croyait a la pre-existence 
des germes ; . non pas a la pre-existence d'un etre tout forme, 
puisqu'il est Men evident que ce n'est que par des developpemens 
successifs que 1'etre acquiert sa forme ; mais, si Ton peut 
s'exprimer ainsi, a la pre-existence du radical de I'Strc, radical 
qui existe avant que la serie des evolutions ne commence, et qui 
remonte certainement, suivant la belle observation de Bonnet, a 
plusieurs generations." Laurillard, Eloge de Cuvier, note 12. 

2 Histoire Naturclle, torn. ii. ed. ii. 1750, p. 350. 

8 Ibid., p. 351. 4 See particularly Buffon, I.e. p. 41. 



Vi EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 195 

appropriation by the parts of an organism of those 
molecules which are analogous to them. Growth, 
therefore, was, on this hypothesis, a process 
partly of simple evolution, and partly of what has 
been termed "syngenesis." Buffon's opinion is, 
in fact, a sort of combination of views, essentially 
similar to those of Bonnet, with others, somewhat 
similar to those of the " Medici " whom Harvey 
condemns. The " molecules organiques " are 
physical equivalents of Leibnitz's " monads." 

It is a striking example of the difficulty of 
getting people to use their own powers of investiga- 
tion accurately, that this form of the doctrine of 
evolution should have held its ground so long ; 
for it was thoroughly and completely exploded, 
not long after its enunciation, by Casper Fried erich 
Wolff, who in his " Theoria Generationis," pub- 
lished in 1759, placed the opposite theory of 
epigenesis upon the secure foundation of fact, 
from which it has never been displaced. But 
Wolff had no immediate successors. The school 
of Cuvier was lamentably deficient in embryo- 
logists ; and it was only in the course of the first 
thirty years of the present century, that Prevost 
and Dumas in France, and, later on, Dollinger, 
Pander, Yon Bar, Rathke,and Remak in Germany, 
founded modern embryology ; while, at the same 
time, they proved the utter incompatibility of the 
hypothesis of evolution, as formulated by Bonnet 
and Haller, with easily demonstrable facts. 



196 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY VI 

Nevertheless, though the conceptions originally 
denoted by " evolution " and " development " were 
shown to be untenable, the words retained their 
application to the process by which the embryos of 
living beings gradually make their appearance ; 
and the terms " Development," " Entwickelung," 
and "Evolutio," are now indiscriminately used for 
the series of genetic changes exhibited by living 
beings, by writers who would emphatically deny 
that " Development " or " Entwickelung " or 
"Evolutio," in the sense in which these words 
were usually employed by Bonnet or by Haller, 
ever occurs. 

Evolution, or development, is, in fact, at present 
employed in biology as a general name for the 
history of the steps by which any living being has 
acquired the morphological and the physiological 
characters which distinguish it. As civil history 
may be divided into biography, which is the history 
of individuals, and universal history, which is the 
history of the human race, so evolution falls 
naturally into two categories the evolution of the 
individual, and the evolution of the sum of living 
beings. It will be convenient to deal with the 
modern doctrine of evolution under these two heads. 

I. The Evolution of the Individual. 
No exception is at this time, known to the 
general law, established upon an immense multi- 
tude of direct observations, that every living thing 



Vi EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 197 

is evolved from a particle of matter in which no 
trace of the distinctive characters of the adult 
form of that living thing is discernible. This 
particle is termed a germ. Harvey 1 says 

"Omnibus viventibus primordium insit, ex quo et a quo pro- 
veniaut. Liceat hoc ndbispritnordiitm vegetale nominate ; ncmpe 
substantiam quandam corpoream vitam habentem potentia ; vel 
quoddam per se existens, quod aptum sit, in vegetativam 
formam, ab interno principle operante, mutari. Quale nempe 
primordium, ovum est et plantarum semen ; tale etiam vivi- 
parorum conceptus, et insectorum vermis ab Aristotele dictus : 
diversa scilicet diversorum vivehtium primordia." 

The definition of a germ as " matter potentially 
alive, and having within itself the tendency to 
assume a definite living form," appears to meet 
all the requirements of modern science. For, 
notwithstanding it might be justly questioned 
whether a germ is not merely potentially, but 
rather actually, alive, though its vital manifesta- 
tions are reduced to a minimum, the term 
" potential " may fairly be used in a sense broad 
enough to escape the objection. And the quali- 
fication of " potential " has the advantage of 
reminding us that the great characteristic of 
the germ is not so much what it is, but what it 
may, under suitable conditions, become. Harvey 
shared the belief of Aristotle whose writings he 
so often quotes and of whom he speaks as his 

1 Exercitationes de Generations. Ex. 62, "Ovum esse 
primordium commune omnibus animalibus." 



198 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

precursor and model, with the generous respect with 
which one genuine worker should regard another 
that such germs may arise by a process of 
" equivocal generation " out of not-living matter ; 
and the aphorism so commonly ascribed to him, 
" omne vivum ex ovo," and which is indeed a fair 
summary of his reiterated assertions, though 
incessantly employed against the modern advo- 
cates of spontaneous generation, can be honestly 
so used only by those who have never read a 
score of pages of the " Exercitationes." Harvey, 
in fact, believed as implicitly as Aristotle did in the 
equivocal generation of the lower animals. But, 
while the course of modern investigation has only 
brought out into greater prominence the accuracy 
of Harvey's conception of the nature and mode of 
development of germs, it has as distinctly tended 
to disprove the occurrence of equivocal generation, 
or abiogenesis, in the present course of nature. 
In the immense majority of both plants and 
animals, it is certain that the germ is not merely 
a body in which life is dormant or potential, but 
that it is itself simply a detached portion of 
the substance of a pre-existing living body ; and 
the evidence has yet to be adduced which will 
satisfy any cautious reasoner that " omne vivum 
ex vivo" is not as well-established a law of 
the existing course of nature as " onine vivum 
ex ovo." 

In all instances which have yet been invest!- 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 199 

gated, the substance of this germ has a peculiar 
chemical composition, consisting of at fewest four 
elementary bodies, viz., carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, 
and nitrogen, united into the ill-defined compound 
known as protein, and associated with much 
water, and very generally, if not always, with 
sulphur and phosphorus in minute proportions. 
Moreover, up to the present time, protein is known 
only as a product and constituent of living 
matter. Again, a true germ is either devoid of 
any structure discernible by optical means, or, at 
most, it is a simple nucleated cell. 1 

In all cases the process of evolution consists in 
a succession of changes of the form, structure, 
and functions of the germ, by which it passes, 
step by step, from an extreme simplicity, or rela- 
tive homogeneity, of visible structure, to a greater 
or less degree of complexity or heterogeneity; 
and the course of progressive differentiation is 
usually accompanied by growth, which is effected 
by intussusception. This intussusception, how- 
ever, is a very different process from that imagined 
either by Buffon or by Bonnet. The substance 
by the addition of which the germ is enlarged is 
in no case simply absorbed, ready-made, from the 
not-living world and packed between the elemen- 
tary constituents of the germ, as Bonnet imagined ; 

1 In some cases of sexless multiplication the germ is a cell- 
aggregate if we call germ only that which is already detached 
from the parent organism. 
42 



200 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

still less does it consist of the " molecules or- 
ganiques " of Buffon. The new material is, in great 
measure, not only absorbed but assimilated, so 
that it becomes part and parcel of the molecular 
structure of the living body into which it enters. 
And, so far from the fully developed organism 
being simply the germ plus the nutriment which 
it has absorbed, it is probable that the adult con- 
tains neither in form, nor in substance, more than 
an inappreciable fraction of the constituents of 
the germ, and that it is almost, if not wholly, 
made up of assimilated and metamorphosed 
nutriment. In the great majority of cases, at 
any rate, the full-grown organism becomes what 
it is by the absorption of not-living matter, and 
its conversion into living matter of a specific type. 
As Harvey says (Ex. 45), all parts of the body 
are nourished " ab eodem succo alibili, aliter 
aliterque cambiato," " ut plantao omnes ex eodem 
communi nutrimento (sive rore seu terras 
humore)." 

In all animals and plants above the lowest the 
germ is a nucleated cell, using that term in its 
broadest sense ; and the first step in the process 
of the evolution of the individual is the division 
of this cell into two or more portions. The pro- 
cess of division is repeated, until the organism, 
from being unicellular, becomes multicellular. 
The single cell becomes a cell-aggregate ; and it 
is to the growth and metamorphosis of the cells 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 201 

of the cell-aggregate thus produced, that all the 
organs and tissues of the adult owe their origin. 

In certain animals belonging to every one of 
the chief groups into which the Metazoa are 
divisible, the cells of the cell-aggregate which 
results from the process of yelk-division, and 
which is termed a morula, diverge from one 
another in such a manner as to give rise to a 
central space, around which they dispose them- 
selves as a coat or envelope ; and thus the morula 
becomes a vesicle filled with fluid, the planula. 
The wall of the planula is next pushed in on one 
side, or invaginated, whereby it is converted into 
a double-walled sac with an opening, the Uasto- 
porc, which leads into the cavity lined by the 
inner wall. This cavity is the primitive alimen- 
tary cavity or archcnteron ; the inner or inva- 
ginated layer is the hypollast ; the outer the 
cpiblast ; and the embryo, in this stage, is termed 
a gastrula. In all the higher animals a layer of 
cells makes its appearance between the hypoblast 
and the epiblast, and is termed the mesoblast. In 
the further course of development the epiblast 
becomes the ectoderm or epidermic layer of the 
body ; the hypoblast becomes the epithelium of 
the middle portion of the alimentary canal ; and 
the mesoblast gives rise to all the other tissues, 
except the central nervous system, which origin- 
ates from an ingrowth of the epiblast. 

With more or less modification in detail, the 



202 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

embryo has been observed to pass through these 
successive evolutional stages in sundry Sponges, 
Coelenterates, Worms, Echinoderms, Tunicates, 
Arthropods, Mollusks, and Vertebrates ; and there 
are valid reasons for the belief that all animals of 
higher organisation than the Protozoa agree in the 
general character of the early stages of their indi- 
vidual evolution. Each, starting from the condition 
of a simple nucleated cell, becomes a cell-aggregate ; 
and this passes through a condition which re- 
presents the gastrula stage, before taking on the 
features distinctive of the group to which it belongs. 
Stated in this form, the " gastraea theory " of 
Haeckel appears to the present writer to be one of 
most important and best founded of recent general- 
isations. So far as individual plants and animals 
are concerned, therefore, evolution is not a specu- 
lation but a fact ; and it takes place by epigenesis. 

"Animal. . . per epigenesin procreatur, materiam simul attra- 
hit, parat, concoquit, et eadem utitur ; formatur simul et augetur 
. . . primum futuri corporis concrementum . . . prout augetur, 
dividitur sensim et distinguitur in partes, non simul omnes, sed 
alias post alias natas, et ordine quasque suo emergentes." 1 

In these words, by the divination of genius, 
Harvey, in the seventeenth century, summed up 
the outcome of the work of all those who, with 
appliances he could not dream of, are continuing 
his labours in the nineteenth century. 

1 Harvey, Exercitationes de Generatione. Ex. 45, "Quoeuam 
sit pulli materia et quomodo fiat in Ovo. " 



Tl EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 203 

Nevertheless, though the doctrine of epigenesis, 
as understood by Harvey, has definitively triumphed 
over the doctrine of evolution, as understood 
by his opponents of the eighteenth century, 
it is not impossible that, when the analysis of the 
process of development is carried still further, and 
the origin of the molecular components of the 
physically gross, though sensibly minute, bodies 
which we term germs is traced, the theory of de- 
velopment will approach more nearly to meta- 
morphosis than to epigenesis. Harvey thought 
that impregnation influenced the female organism 
as a contagion ; and that the blood, which he con- 
ceived to be the first rudiment of the germ, arose 
in the clear fluid of the " colliquamentum " of the 
ovum by a process of concrescence, as a sort of 
living precipitate. We now know, on the contrary, 
that the female germ or ovum, in all the higher 
animals and plants, is a body which possesses the 
structure of a nucleated cell; that impregnation 
consists in the fusion of the substance * of another 
more or less modified nucleated cell, the male germ, 
with the ovum ; and that the structural com- 
ponents of the body of the embryo are all derived, 
by a process of division, from the coalesced male 
and female germs. Hence it is conceivable, and 
indeed probable, that every part of the adult con- 
tains molecules, derived both from the male and 

1 [At any rate of the nuclei of the two germ-cells. 1893]. 



204 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

from the female parent ; and that, regarded as a 
mass of molecules, the entire organism may be com- 
pared to a web of which the warp is derived from the 
female and the woof from the male. And each of 
these may constitute one individuality, in the same 
sense as the whole organism is one individual, al- 
though the matter of the organism has been con- 
stantly changing. The primitive male and female 
molecules may play the part of Buffon's " moules 
organiques," and mould the assimilated nutriment, 
each according to its own type, into innumerable 
new molecules. From this point of view the process, 
which, in its superficial aspect, is epigenesis, appears 
in essence, to be evolution, in the modified sense 
adopted in Bonnet's later writings ; and develop- 
ment is merely the expansion of a potential organ- 
ism or " original preformation " according to fixed 
laws. 



II. The Evolution of the Sum of Living Beings. 

The notion that all the kinds of animals and 
plants may have come into existence by the growth 
and modification of primordial germs is as old as 
speculative thought; but the modern scientific 
form of the doctrine can be traced historically to 
the influence of several converging lines of philo- 
sophical speculation and of physical observation, 
none of which go farther back than the seven- 
teenth century. These are : 



Vi EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 205 

1. The enunciation by Descartes of the concep- 
tion that the physical universe, whether living or 
not living, is a mechanism, and that, as such, it is 
explicable on physical principles. 

2. The observation of the gradations of struc- 
ture, from extreme simplicity to very great com- 
plexity, presented by living things, and of the 
relation of these graduated forms to one another. 

3. The observation of the existence of an anal- 
ogy between the series of gradations presented by 
the species which compose any great group of 
animals or plants, and the series of embryonic 
conditions of the highest members of that group. 

4. The observation that large groups of species 
of widely different habits present the same funda- 
mental plan of structure ; and that parts of the 
same animal or plant, the functions of which are 
very different, likewise exhibit modifications of a 
common plan. 

5. The observation of the existence of structures, 
in a rudimentary and apparently useless condition, 
in one species of a group, which are fully devel- 
oped and have definite functions in other species 
of the same group. 

6. The observation of the effects of varying 
conditions in modifying living organisms. 

7. The observation of the facts of geographical 
distribution. 

8. The observation of the facts of the geological 
succession of the forms of life. 



206 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY V I 

1. Notwithstanding the elaborate disguise which 
fear of the powers that were led Descartes to 
throw over his real opinions, it is impossible to 
read the " Principes de la Philosophic " without 
acquiring the conviction that this great philosopher 
held that the physical world and all things in it, 
whether living or not living, have originated by a 
process of evolution, due to the continuous opera- 
tion of purely physical causes, out of a primitive 
relatively formless matter. 1 

The following passage is especially instructive : 

"Et tant s'en faut que je veuille que Ton croie toutes les 
choses que j'ecrirai, que meme je pretends en proposer ici quelques 
unes que je crois absolument etre fausses ; a savoir, je ne doute 
point que le monde n'ait etc cree au commencement avec autant 
de perfection qu'il en a ; en sorte que le soleil, la terre, la lune, 
et les etoiles ont ete des lors ; et que la terre n'a pas eu seulement 
en soi les sentiences des plantes, mais que les plantes meme en 
ont couvert une partie ; et qu* Adam et Eve n'ont pas ete crees 
enfans mais en age d'hommes parfaits. La religion chretienne 
veut que nous le croyons ainsi, et la raison naturelle nous persuade 
entierement cette verite ; car si nous considerons la toute puis- 
sance de Dieu, nous devons juger que tout ce qu'il a faitaeu des 
le commencement toute la perfection qu'il devoit avoir. Mais 
neanmoins, comme on connditroit beaucoup mieux quelle a ete la 
nature d'Adam et celle des arbres de Paradis si on avoit examine 
comment les enfants se forment peu apeudans le ventre de leurs 
meres et comment les plantes sortent de leurs semences, que si 
on avoit seulemeni considere quels ils ont ete quand Dieu les a 
crees : tout de meme, nous ferons mieux entendre quelle est 

1 As Buffbn has well said : " L'idee de ramener I'explication 
de tous les phenomenes a des principes mecaniques est assure- 
ment grande et belle, ce pas est le plus bardi qu'on peut faire en 
philosophic, etc'est Descartes qui 1'a fait." I.e. p. 50. 



VI EVOLUTION IX BIOLOGY 207 

generalemcnt la nature de toutes les choses qui sont au monde si 
nous pouvons imaginer quelques principes qui soient fort intelli- 
gibles et fort simples, desquels nous puissions voir clairement que 
les astres et la terre et enfin tout ce monde visible auroit pu etre 
produit ainsi que de quelques semences (bien que nous sachions 
qu'il n'a pas ete produit en cette fa^on) que si nous la decrivions 
seulement comme il est, ou bien comme iious croyons qu'il a ete 
cree. Et parceque je pense avoir trouve des principes qui sont 
tels, je tacherai ici de les expliquer." 1 

If we read between the lines of this singular 
exhibition of force of one kind and weakness of 
another, it is clear that Descartes believed that he 
had divined the mode in which the physical uni- 
verse had been evolved ; and the " Traite de 
1'Homrae," and the essay " Sur les Passions " afford 
abundant additional evidence that he sought for, 
and thought he had found, an explanation of the 
phenomena of physical life by deduction from 
purely physical laws. 

Spinoza abounds in the same sense, and is as 
usual perfectly candid 

" Naturae leges et regulse, secundum quas omnia fiunt et ex 
unis formis in alias mutantur, sunt ubique et semper eadem." 3 

Leibnitz's doctrine of continuity necessarily led 
him in the same direction ; and, of the infinite 
multitude of monads with which he peopled the 
world, each is supposed to be the focus of an end- 
less process of evolution and involution. In the 

1 Principes dc la Philosophic, Troisieme partie, 45. 
* EJticcs, Pars tertia, Prafatio. 



208 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

" Protogsea," xxvi., Leibnitz distinctly suggests the 
mutability of species 

"Alii mirantur in saxis passim species videri quasvel in orbe 
cognito, vel saltern in vicinis locis frustra quan-as. ' Ita Cornua 
Ammonis,' qua? ex nautilorum numero habeantur, passim et 
forma et magnitudine (nam et pedali diametro aliquando reperiun- 
tur) ab omnibus illis naturis discrepare dicunt, quas prrebet mare. 
Sed quis absconditos ejus recessus aut subterraneas abysses per- 
vestigavit ? quam multa nobis animalia antea ignota effort novus 
orbis? Et credibile est per magnas illas conversiones etiarn 
animalium species plurimum immutatas. " 

Thus, in the end of the seventeenth century, 
the seed was sown which has, at intervals, brought 
forth recurrent crops of evolutional hypotheses, 
based, more or less completely, on general 
reasonings. 

Among the earliest of these speculations is 
that put forward by Benoit de Maillet in his 
" Telliamed," which, though printed in 1735, was 
not published until twenty-three years later. 
Considering that this book was written before the 
time of Haller, or Bonnet, or Linnaeus, or Hutton, 
it surely deserves more respectful consideration 
than it usually receives. For De Maillet not only 
has a definite conception of the plasticity of living 
things, and of the production of existing species 
by the modification of their predecessors ; but he 
clearly apprehends the cardinal maxim of modern 
geological science, that the explanation of the 
structure of the globe is to be sought in the 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 209 

deductive application to geological phenomena of 
the principles established inductively by the study 
of the present course of nature. Somewhat later, 
Maupertuis 1 suggested a curious hypothesis as to 
the causes of variation, which he thinks may be 
sufficient to account for the origin of all animals 
from a single pair. Robinet 2 followed out much 
the same line of thought as De Maillet, but less 
soberly ; and Bonnet's speculations in the " Paling- 
(Snesie," which appeared in 1769, have already 
been mentioned. Buffon (1753 1778), at first a 
partisan of the absolute immutability of species, 
subsequently appears to have believed that larger 
or smaller groups of species have been produced 
by the modification of a primitive stock ; but he 
contributed nothing to the general doctrine of 
evolution. 

Erasmus Darwin ("Zoonomia," 1794), though a 
zealous evolutionist, can hardly be said to have 
made any real advance on his predecessors ; and, 
notwithstanding that Goethe (1791-4) had the 
advantage of a wide knowledge of morphological 
facts, and a true insight into their signification, 
while he threw all the power of a great poet into 
the expression of his conceptions, it may be ques- 
tioned whether he supplied the doctrine of evolu- 

1 Systeme dc la Nature, " Essai snr la Formation des Corps 
Organists," 1751, xiv. 

- Considerations Philosophiques sur la gradation nafurdlc tfrs 
formes dc I'gtre ; ou Ics cssais dc la nature qui apprend a faire 
I'Junnmc, 1768. 



210 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

tion with a firmer scientific basis than it already 
possessed. Moreover, whatever the value of 
Goethe's labours in that field, they were not 
published before 1820, long after evolutionism had 
taken a new departure from the works of Trevir- 
anus and Lamarck the first of its advocates who 
were equipped for their task with the needful 
large and accurate knowledge of the phenomena of 
life, as a whole. It is remarkable that each of 
these writers seems to have been led, independ- 
ently and contemporaneously, to invent the same 
name of " Biology " for the science of the pheno- 
mena of life ; and thus, following Buffon, to have 
recognised the essential unity of these phenomena, 
and their contradistinction from those of inanimate 
nature. And it is hard to say whether Lamarck 
or Treviranus has the priority in propounding the 
main thesis of the doctrine of evolution ; for 
though the first volume of Treviranus's " Biologie " 
appeared only in 1802, he says, in the preface to 
his later work, the " Erscheinungen und Gesetze 
des organischen Lebens," dated 1831, that he 
wrote the first volume of the " Biologie " " nearly 
five-and-thirty years ago," or about 1796. 

Now, in 1794, there is evidence that Lamarck 
held doctrines which present a striking contrast to 
those which are to be found in the " Philosophic 
Zoologique," as the following passages show : 

" 685. Quoique mon unique objet dans cet article n'ait et6 qua 
de trailer de la cause physique de 1'entretien de la vie des etres 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 211 

organiques, malgre cela j'ai ose avancer en debutant, que 1'exist- 
ence de ces etres etonnants n'appartiennent nullement a la 
nature ; que tout ce qu'on peut entendre par le mot nature, ne 
pouvoit donner la vie, c'est-a-dire, que toutes les qualites de la 
matiere, jointes a toutes les circonstances possibles, et meme a 
1'activite repandue dans 1'uuivers, ne pouvaient point produire 
un etre muni du mouvement organique, capable de reproduire 
son semblable, et sujet a la mort. 

"686. Tous les individus de cette nature, qui existent, pro- 
viennent d'individus semblables qui tous ensemble constituent 
1' espece entiere. Or, je crois qu'il est aussi impossible a rhomme 
de connoitre la cause physique du premier individu de chaque 
espece, que d'assigner aussi physiquement la cause de 1'existence 
de la matiere ou de 1'univers entier. C'est au moins ce que le 
resultat de mes connaissances et de mes reflexions me portent a 
penser. S'il existe beaucoup de varietes produites par 1'effet des 
circonstances, ces varietes ne denaturent point les especes ; mais 
on se trompe, sans doute souvent, en indiquant comme espece, ce 
qui n'est que variete ; et alors je sens que cette erreur peut tirer 
a consequence dans les raisonnements que Ton fait sur cette 
matiere. " 1 

The first three volumes of Treviranus's " Bio- 
logie," which contain his general views of 
evolution, appeared between 1802 and 1805. The 
" Recherches sur 1' organisation des corps vivants," 
in which the outlines of Lamarck's doctrines are 
given, was published in 1802 ; but the full develop- 

1 Recherches sur les causes den principaux faits physiques, 
par J. B. Lamarck. Paris. Secondo aunee de la Republique. 
In the preface, Lamarck says that the work was written in 1776, 
and presented to the Academy in 1780 ; but it was not published 
before I794,and, at that time, it presumably expressed Lamarck's 
mature views. It would be interesting to know what brought 
about the change of opinion manifested in the liecherches sur 
I' organisation des corps vivants, published only seven years 
later. 



212 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

ment of his views, in the " Philosophie 
Zoologique," did not take place until 1809. 

The " Biologie " and the " Philosophie Zoolo- 
gique " are both very remarkable productions, and 
are still worthy of attentive study, but they fell 
upon evil times. The vast authority of Cuvier 
was employed in suppoi't of the traditionally 
respectable hypotheses of special creation and of 
catastrophism ; and the wild speculations of the 
" Discours sur les Revolutions de la Surface du 
Globe " were held to be models of sound scientific 
thinking, while the really much more sober and 
philosophical hypotheses of the " Hydrogeologie " 
were scouted. For many years it was the fashion 
to speak of Lamarck with ridicule, while Trevir- 
anus was altogether ignored. 

Nevertheless, the work had been done. The 
conception of evolution was henceforward irrepres- 
sible, and it incessantly reappears, in one shape or 
another, 1 up to the year 1858, when Mr. Darwin 
and Mr. Wallace published their "Theory of 
Natural Selection." The " Origin of Species " 
appeared in 1859 ; and it is within the knowledge 
of all whose memories go back to that time, that, 
henceforward, the doctrine of evolution has 
assumed a position and acquired an importance 
which it never before possessed. In the " Origin 
of Species," and in his other numerous and 

1 Sec the " Historical Sketch " prefixed to the last edition of 
the Origin of Species. 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 213 

important contributions to the solution of the 
problem of biological evolution, Mr. Darwin con- 
fines himself to the discussion of the causes which 
have brought about the present condition of living 
matter, assuming such matter to have once come 
into existence. On the other hand, Mr. Spencer x 
and Professor Haeckel 2 have dealt with the whole 
problem of evolution. The profound and vigorous 
writings of Mr. Spencer embody the spirit of 
Descartes in the knowledge of our own day, and 
may be regarded as the " Principes de la 
Philosophic" of the nineteenth century; while, 
whatever hesitation may not unfrequently be felt 
by less daring minds, in following Haeckel in many 
of his speculations, his attempt to systematise the 
doctrine of evolution and to exhibit its influence 
as the central thought of modern biology, cannot 
fail to have a far-reaching influence on the progress 
of science. 

If we seek for the reason of the difference 
between the scientific position of the doctrine of 
evolution a century ago, and that which it occupies 
now, we shall find it in the great accumulation 
of facts, the several classes of which have been 
enumerated above, under the second to the eighth 
heads. For those which are grouped under the 
second to the seventh of these classes, respectively, 
have a clear significance on the hypothesis of 

1 First Principles, and Principles of Riolojy, 1860-1864. 
* Gencrcllc Morplwloji.-, 1866. 



214 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY VI 

evolution, while they are unintelligible if that 
hypothesis be denied. And those of the eighth 
group are not only unintelligible without the 
assumption of evolution, but can be proved never 
to be discordant with that hypothesis, while, in 
some cases, they are exactly such as the hypothesis 
requires. The demonstration of these assertions 
would require a volume, but the general nature of 
the evidence on which they rest may be briefly 
indicated. 

2. The accurate investigation of the lowest 
forms of animal life, commenced by Leeuwenhoek 
and Swammerdam, and continued by the remark- 
able labours of Reaumur, Trembley, Bonnet, and a 
host of other observers, in the latter part of the 
seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth 
centuries, drew the attention of biologists to the 
gradation in the complexity of organisation which 
is presented by living beings, and culminated in 
the doctrine of the " echelle des etres," so power- 
fully and clearly stated by Bonnet ; and, before 
him, adumbrated by Locke and by Leibnitz. In 
the then state of knowledge, it appeared that all 
the species of animals and plants could be 
arranged in one series ; in such a manner that, by 
insensible gradations, the mineral passed into the 
plant, the plant into the polype, the polype into 
the worm, and so, through gradually higher forms 
of life, to man, at the summit of the animated 
world. 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 215 

But., as knowledge advanced, this conception 
ceased to be tenable in the crude form in which 
it was first put forward. Taking into account 
existing; animals and plants alone, it became 
obvious that they fell into groups which were 
more or less sharply separated from one another ; 
and, moreover, that even the species of a genus 
can hardly ever be arranged in linear series. 
Their natural resemblances and differences are 
only to be expressed by disposing them as if they 
were branches springing from a common hypo- 
thetical centre. 

Lamarck, while affirming the verbal proposition 
that animals form a single series, was forced by his 
vast acquaintance with the details of zoology to 
limit the assertion to such a series as may be 
formed out of the abstractions constituted by the 
common characters of each group. 1 

Cuvier on anatomical, and Von Baer on embryo- 
logical grounds, made the further step of proving 
that, even in this limited sense, animals cannot be 
arranged in a single series, but that there are 
several distinct plans of organisation to be observed 
among them, no one of which, in its highest and 
most complicated modification, leads to any of the 
others. 

1 "II s'agit done de prouver que la serie qui constitue 
P&helle aniniale reside cssentiellcmcnt dans la distribution des 
masses principales qui la composent et non dans celle des especes 
ni meme toujours dans celle des genres." Philosophic Zoologique, 
chap. v. 

43 



216 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

The conclusions enunciated by Cuvier and Von 
Baer have been confirmed, in principle, by all 
subsequent research into the structure of animals 
and plants. But the effect of the adoption of 
these conclusions has been rather to substitute a 
new metaphor for that of Bonnet than to abolish 
the conception expressed by it. Instead of regard- 
ing living things as capable of arrangement in one 
series like the steps of a ladder, the results of 
modern investigation compel us to dispose them 
as if they were the twigs and branches of a tree. 
The ends of the twigs represent individuals, the 
smallest groups of twigs species, larger groups 
genera, and so on, until we arrive at the source of 
all these ramifications of the main branch, which 
is represented by a common plan of structure. At 
the present moment, it is impossible to draw up 
any definition, based on broad anatomical or 
developmental characters, by which any one of 
Cuvier's great groups shall be separated from all 
the rest. On the contrary, the lower members of 
each tend to converge towards the lower members 
of all the others. The same may be said of the 
vegetable world. The apparently clear distinction 
between flowering and flowerless plants has been 
broken down by the series of gradations between 
the two exhibited by the Lycopodiacecc, Rhizo- 
carpece, and Gymnospermccv. The groups of Fimgi, 
Lichenes, and Algcc have completely run into one 
another, and, when the lowest forms of each are 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 217 

alone considered, even the animal and vegetable 
kingdoms cease to have a definite frontier. 

If it is permissible to speak of the relations of 
living forms to one another metaphorically, the 
similitude chosen must undoubtedly be that of a 
common root, whence two main trunks, one repre- 
senting the vegetable and one the animal world, 
spring; and, each dividing into a few main 
branches, these subdivide into multitudes of 
branchlets and these into smaller groups of 
twigs. 

As Lamarck has well said l 

" II n'y a que ceux qui se sont longtempsetfortementoccupes 
de la determination des especes, ct qui ont consulte de riches 
collections, qui peuvent savoir jusqu'a quel point les cspece*, 
panni les corps vivants se fondent les uues dans les autres, et qui 
ont pu se eonvaincre que, dans les parties oil nous voyons des 
especes isoles, cela n'est ainsi que parcequ'il nous en manque 
d'autresqui en sont plus voisines et que nous n'avons pas encore 
recueillies. 

" Je ne veux pas dire pour cela que les animaux qui existent 
forment une serie tres-simple et partout egalement nuancee ; 
mais je dis qu'ils forment une serie ramense, irregulierement 
graduee et qui n'a point de discontinuity dans ses parties, ouqui, 
du moins, n'en a toujours pas eu, s'il est vrai que, par suite de 
quclques especes perdues, il s'en trouve quelque part. II en 
resulte que les especes qui terminent chaque rameau de la serie 
gcnerale tiennent, au moins d'un cote, ad'autres especes voisines 
qui se nuancent avec elles. Voila ce que 1'etat bien connu des 
choses me met maintenant a portee de demontrer. Je n'ai 
be.soiu d'aucune hypothese ni d'aucune supposition pour cela : 
j'en atteste tous les naturalistes observateurs. " 

1 Philosophic Zooloyique, premiere partic, chap. iii. 



218 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

3. In a remarkable essay 1 Meckel remarks 

"There is no good physiologist who has not been struck by 
the observation that the original form of all organisms is one and 
the same, and that out of this one form, all, the lowest as well as 
the highest, are developed in such a manner that the latter pass 
through the permanent forms of the former as transitory stages. 
Aristotle, Haller, Harvey, Kielmeyer, Autenrieth, and many 
others, have either made this observation incidentally, or, 
especially the latter, have drawn particular attention to it, 
and deduced therefrom results of permanent importance for 
physiology." 

Meckel proceeds to exemplify the thesis, that 
the lower forms of animals represent stages in 
the course of the development of the higher, with 
a large series of illustrations. 

After comparing the Salamanders and the 
perennibranchiate Urodda with the Tadpoles and 
the Frogs, and enunciating the law that the more 
highly any animal is organised the more quickly 
does it pass through the lower stages, Meckel goes 
on to say 

" From these lowest Vertebrata to the highest, and to the 
highest forms among these, the comparison between the embry- 
onic conditions of the higher animals and the adult states of the 
lower can be more completely and thoroughly instituted than if 
the survey is extended to the Invertebrata, inasmuch as the latter 
are in many respects constructed upon an altogether too dissimilar 
type ; indeed they often differ from one another far more than 
the lowest vertebrate does from the highest mammal ; yet the 

1 "Entwurf einer Darstellung der zwischcn dem Embryozus- 
tande der hbheren Thicre und dem permanenten der niederen. 
stattfmdenden Parallele," Beylragezur Vergleichcndcn Anatomic, 
Bd. ii. 1811. 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 219 

following pages will show that the comparison may also be 
extended to them with interest. In fact, there is a period when, 
as Aristotle long ago said, the embryo of the highest animal 
has the form of a mere worm ; and, devoid of internal and 
external organisation, is merely an almost structureless lump of 
polype substance. Notwithstanding the origin of organs, it 
still for a certain time, by reason of its want of an internal bony 
skeleton, remains worm and mollusk, and only later enters into 
the series of the Vertebrata, although traces of the vertebral 
column even in the earliest periods testify its claim to a place 
in that series." Op. cit. pp. 4, 5. 

If Meckel's proposition is so far qualified, that 
the comparison of adult with embryonic forms is 
restricted within the limits of one type of organi- 
sation ; and, if it is further recollected that the 
resemblance between the permanent lower form 
and the embryonic stage of a higher form is not 
special but general, it is in entire accordance with 
modern embryology ; although there is no branch 
of biology which has grown so largely, and im- 
proved its methods so much, since Meckel's time, 
as this. In its original form, the doctrine of 
" arrest of development," as advocated by Geoffrey 
Saint-Hilaire and Serres, was no doubt an over- 
statement of the case. It is. not true, for example, 
that a fish is a reptile arrested in its development, 
or that a reptile was ever a fish : but it is true 
that the reptile embryo, at one stage of its 
development, is an organism which, if it had an 
independent existence, must be classified among 
fishes ; and all the organs of the reptile pass, in 
the course of their development, through conditions 



220 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

which are closely analogous to those which are 
permanent in some fishes. 

4. That branch of biology which is termed Mor- 
phology is a commentary upon, and expansion of, 
the proposition that widely different animals or 
plants, and widely different parts of animals or 
plants, are constructed upon the same plan. 
From the rough comparison of the skeleton of a 
bird with that of a man by Belon, in the sixteenth 
century (to go no farther back), down to the 
theory of the limbs and the theory of the skull at 
the present day ; or, from the first demonstration o-f 
the homologies of the parts of a flower by C. F. 
Wolff, to the present elaborate analysis of the 
floral organs, morphology exhibits a continual 
advance towards the demonstration of a funda- 
mental unity among the seeming diversities of 
living structures. And this demonstration has 
been completed by the final establishment of the 
cell theory, which involves the admission of a 
primitive conformity, not only of all the elemen- 
tary structures in animals and plants respectively, 
but of those in the one of these great divisions 
of living things with those in the other. No a 
priori difficulty can be said to stand in the way of 
evolution, when it can be shown that all animals 
and all plants proceed by modes of development, 
which are similar in principle, from a fundamental 
protoplasmic material. 

5. The innumerable cases of structures, which are 



TI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 221 

rudimentary and apparently useless, in species, 
the close allies of which possess well-developed 
and functionally important homologous structures, 
are readily intelligible on the theory of evolution, 
while it is hard to conceive their raison d'etre on 
any other hypothesis. However, a cautious rea- 
soner will probably rather explain such cases 
deductively from the doctrine of evolution than 
endeavour to support the doctrine of evolution by 
them. For it is almost impossible to prove that 
any structure, however rudimentary, is useless 
that is to say, that it plays no part whatever in 
the economy ; and, if it is in the slightest degree 
useful, there is no reason why, on the hypothesis 
of direct creation, it should not have been created. 
Nevertheless, double-edged as is the argument 
from rudimentary organs, there is probably none 
which has produced a greater effect in promoting 
the general acceptance of the theory of evo- 
lution. 

6. The older advocates of evolution sought for the 
causes of the process exclusively in the influence of 
varying conditions, such as climate and station, or 
hybridisation, upon living forms. Even Treviranus 
has got no farther than this point. Lamarck in- 
troduced the conception of the action of an animal 
on itself as a factor in producing modification. 
Starting from the well-known fact that the 
habitual use of a limb tends to develop the muscles 
of the limb, and to produce a greater and greater 



222 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY VI 

facility in using it, he made the general assumption, 
that the effort of an animal to exert an organ in a. 
given direction tends to develop the organ in that 
direction. But a little consideration showed that, 
though Lamarck had seized what, as far it goes, is 
a true cause of modification, it is a cause the actual 
effects of which are wholly inadequate to account 
for any considerable modification in animals, and 
which can have no influence at all in the vegetable 
world ; and probably nothing contributed so much 
to discredit evolution, in the early part of this 
century, as the floods of easy ridicule which were 
poured upon this part of Lamarck's speculation. 
The theory of natural selection, or survival of the 
fittest, was suggested by Wells in 1813, and 
further elaborated by Matthew in 1831. But the 
pregnant suggestions of these writers remained 
practically unnoticed and forgotten, until the theory 
was independently devised and promulgated by 
Darwin and Wallace in 1858, and the effect of its 
publication was immediate and profound. 

Those who were unwilling to accept evolution, 
without better grounds than such as are offered by 
Lamarck, or the author of that particularly un- 
satisfactory book, the ' Vestiges of the Natural 
History of the Creation," and who therefore 
preferred to suspend their judgment on the 
question, found, in the principle of selective 
breeding, pursued in all its applications with 
marvellous knowledge and skill by Mr. Darwin, a 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 223 

valid explanation of the occurrence of varieties and 
races ; and they saw clearly that, if the explanation 
would apply to species, it would not only solve the 
problem of their evolution, but that it would ac- 
count for the facts of teleology, as well as for those 
of morphology ; and for the persistence of some 
forms of life unchanged through long epochs of 
time, while others undergo comparatively rapid 
metamorphosis. 

How far " natural selection " suffices for the pro- 
duction of species remains to be seen. Few can 
doubt that, if not the whole cause, it is a very im- 
portant factor in that operation ; and that it must 
play a great part in the sorting out of varieties 
into those which are transitory and those which 
are permanent. 

But the causes and conditions of variation have 
yet to be thoroughly explored ; and the importance 
of natural selection will not be impaired, even if 
further inquiries should prove that variability 
is definite, and is determined in certain directions 
rather than in others, by conditions inherent in 
that which varies. It is quite conceivable that 
every species tends to produce varieties of a 
limited number and kind, and that the effect of 
natural selection is to favour the development of 
some of these, while it opposes the development 
of others along their predetermined lines of modi- 
fication. 

7. No truths brought to light by biological 



224 EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY vi 

investigation were better calculated to inspire 
distrust of the dogmas intruded upon science in 
the name of theology, than those which relate to 
the distribution of animals and plants on the 
surface of the earth. Very skilful accommodation 
was needful, if the limitation of sloths to South 
America, and of the ornithorhynchus to Australia, 
was to be reconciled with the literal interpretation 
of the history of the deluge ; and with the estab- 
lishment of the existence of distinct provinces of 
distribution, any serious belief in the peopling of 
the world by migration from Mount Ararat came 
to an end. 

Under these circumstances, only one alternative 
was left for those who denied the occurrence of 
evolution namely, the supposition that the 
characteristic animals and plants of each great 
province were created as such, within the limits in 
which we find them. And as the hypothesis of 
" specific centres," thus formulated, was heterodox 
from the theological point of view, and unintelli- 
gible under its scientific aspect, it may be passed 
over without further notice, as a phase of transi- 
tion from the creational to the evolutional hypo- 
thesis. 

8. In fact, the strongest and most conclusive 
arguments in favour of evolution are those which 
are based upon the facts of geographical, taken 
in conjunction with those of geological, distri- 
bution. 



VI EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 225 

Both Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace lay great 
stress on the close relation which obtains between 
the existing fauna of any region and that of the 
immediately antecedent geological epoch in the 
same region ; and rightly, for it is in truth in- 
conceivable that there should be no genetic 
connection between the two. It is possible to put 
into words the proposition that all the animals and 
plants of each geological epoch were annihilated 
and that a new set of very similar forms was 
created for the next epoch ; but it may be doubted 
if any one who ever tried to form a distinct mental 
image of this process of spontaneous generation on 
the grandest scale, ever really succeeded in real- 
ising it. 

Within the last twenty years, the attention of 
the best palaeontologists has been withdrawn from 
the hodman's work of making " new species " of 
fossils, to the scientific task of completing our 
knowledge of individual species, and tracing out 
the succession of the forms presented by any 
given type in time. 

Those who desire to inform themselves of the 
nature and extent of the evidence bearing on these 
questions may consult the works of Riitimeyer, 
Gaudry, Kowalewsky, Marsh, and the writer of the 
present article. It must suffice, in this place, to 
say that the successive forms of the Equine type 
have been fully worked out ; while those of nearly 
all the other existing types of Ungulate mammals 



22G EVOLUTION IN BIOLOGY 



VI 



and of the Carnivora have been almost as closely 
followed through the Tertiary deposits ; the gra- 
dations between birds arid reptiles have been 
traced ; and the modifications undergone by the 
Crocodilia, from the Triassic epoch to the present 
day, have been demonstrated. On the evidence of 
palaeontology, the evolution of many existing forms 
of animal life from their predecessors is no longer 
an hypothesis, but an historical fact ; it is only the 
nature of the physiological factors to which 
that evolution is due which is still open to dis- 
cussion. 

[At page 209, the reference to Erasmus D',rwin does not do 
justice to that ingenious writer, who, in the 39th section of the 
Zoonomia, clearly and repeatedly enunciates the theory of the 
inheritance of acquired modifications. For example: "From 
their first rudiment, or primordium, to the termination of their 
lives, all animals undergo perpetual transformations ; which are 
in part produced by their own exertions in consequence of their 
desires and aversions, of their pleasures and their pains, or of 
irritation, or of associations ; and many of these acquired forms 
or propensities are transmitted to their posterity." Zoonomia I., 
p. 506. 1893.] 



VII 

THE COMING OF AGE OF " THE ORIGIN 
OF SPECIES " 

[1880] 

MANY of you will be familiar with the aspect of 
this small green-covered book. It is a copy of the 
first edition of the " Origin of Species," and bears 
the date of its production the 1st of October 
1859. Only a few months, therefore, are needed 
to complete the full tale of twenty-one years since 
its birthday. 

Those whose memories carry them back to this 
time will remember that the infant was remarkably 
lively, and that a great number of excellent per- 
sons mistook its manifestations of a vigorous 
individuality for mere naughtiness ; in fact there 
was a very pretty turmoil about its cradle. My 
recollections of the period are particularly vivid ; 
for, having conceived a tender affection for a child 
of what appeared to me to be such remarkable 
promise, I acted for some time in the capacity of a 



228 THE COMING OF AGE OF vil 

sort of under-nurse, and thus came in for my share 
of the storms which threatened the very life of 
the young creature. For some years it was 
undoubtedly warm work ; but considering how 
exceedingly unpleasant the apparition of the new- 
comer must have been to those who did not fall in 
love with him at first sight, I think it is to the 
credit of our age that the war was not fiercer, and 
that the more bitter and unscrupulous forms of 
opposition died away as soon as they did. 

I speak of this period as of something past and 
gone, possessing merely an historical, I had almost 
said an antiquarian interest. For, during the 
second decade of the existence of the " Origin of 
Species," opposition, though by no means dead, 
assumed a different aspect. On the part of all 
those who had any reason to respect themselves, 
it assumed a thoroughly respectful character. By 
this time, the dullest began to perceive that the 
child was not likely to perish of any congenital 
weakness or infantile disorder, but was growing 
into a stalwart personage, upon whom mere goody 
scoldings and threatenings with the birch-rod 
were quite thrown away. 

In fact, those who have watched the progress of 
science within the last ten years will bear me out 
to the full, when I assert that there is no field of 
biological inquiry in which the influence of the 
" Origin of Species " is not traceable ; the foremost 
men of science in every country are either avowed 



VII "THE OETGIN OF SPECIES" 229 

champions of its leading doctrines, or at any rate 
abstain from opposing them ; a host of young and 
ardent investigators seek for and find inspiration 
and guidance in Mr. Darwin's great work ; and the 
general doctrine of evolution, to one side of which 
it gives expression, obtains, in the phenomena of 
biology, a firm base of operations whence it may 
conduct its conquest of the whole realm of Nature. 

History warns us, however, that it is the cus- 
tomary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and 
to end as superstitions ; and, as matters now stand, 
it is hardly rash to anticipate that, in another 
twenty years, the new generation, educated under 
the influences of the present day, will be in danger 
of accepting the main doctrines of the " Origin of 
Species," with as little reflection, and it may be 
with as little justification, as so many of our con- 
temporaries, twenty years ago, rejected them. 

Against any such a consummation let us all 
devoutly pray ; for the scientific spirit is of more 
value than its products, and irrationally held 
truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors. 
Now the essence of the scientific spirit is criticism. 
It tells us that whenever a doctrine claims our 
assent we should reply, Take it if you can compel 
it. The struggle for existence holds as much in 
the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory 
is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is 
coextensive with its power of resisting extinction 
by its rivals. 



230 THE COMING OF AGE OF VII 

From tins point of view, it appears to me that 
it would be but a poor way of celebrating the 
Coming of Age of the " Origin of Species," were I 
merely to dwell upon the facts, undoubted and re- 
markable as they are, of its far-reaching influence 
and of the great following of ardent disciples who 
are occupied in spreading and developing its 
doctrines. Mere insanities and inanities have 
before now swollen to portentous size in the course 
of twenty years. Let us rather ask this prodigious 
change in opinion to justify itself : let us inquire 
whether anything has happened since 1859, which 
will explain, on rational grounds, why so many 
are worshipping that which they burned, and burn- 
ing that which they worshipped. It is only in 
this way that we shall acquire the means of 
judging whether the movement we have witnessed 
is a mere eddy of fashion, or truly one with the 
irreversible current of intellectual progress, and, 
like it, safe from retrogressive reaction. 

Every belief is the product of two factors : the 
first is the slate of the mind to which the evidence 
in favour of that belief is presented ; and the 
second is the logical cogency of the evidence itself. 
In both these respects, the history of biological 
science during the last twenty years appears to me 
to afford an ample explanation of the change 
which has taken place ; and a brief consideration 
of the salient events of that history will enable us 
to understand why, if the " Origin of Species " ap- 



Vii "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 231 

peared now, it would meet with a very different 
reception from that which greeted it in 1859. 

One-and-twenty years ago, in spite of the work 
commenced by Hutton and continued with rare 
skill and patience by Lyell, the dominant view of 
the past history of the earth was catastrophic. 
Great and sudden physical revolutions, wholesale 
creations and extinctions of living beings, were the 
ordinary machinery of the geological epic brought 
into fashion by the misapplied genius of Cuvier. 
It was gravely maintained and taught that the 
end of every geological epoch was signalised by a 
cataclysm, by which every living being on the 
globe was swept away, to be replaced by a brand- 
new creation when the world returned to quies- 
cence. A scheme of nature which appeared to be 
modelled on the likeness of a succession of rubbers 
of whist, at the end of each of which the players 
upset the table and called for a new pack, did not 
seem to shock anybody. 

I may be wrong, but I doubt if, at the present 
time, there is a single responsible representative 
of these opinions left. The progress of scientific 
geology has elevated the fundamental principle of 
uniformitarianism, that the explanation of the past 
is to be sought in the study of the present, into 
the position of an axiom ; and the wild specula- 
tions of the catastrophists, to which we all listened 
with respect a quarter of a century ago, would 
hardly find a single patient hearer at the present 



232 THE COMING OF AGE OF vil 

day. No physical geologist now dreams of seeking, 
outside the range of known natural causes, for the 
explanation of anything that happened millions of 
years ago, any more than he would be guilty 
of the like absurdity in regard to current events. 

The effect of this change of opinion upon biolo- 
gical speculation is obvious. For, if there have 
been no periodical general physical catastrophes, 
what brought about the assumed general ex- 
tinctions and re-creations of life which are the 
corresponding biological catastrophes ? And, if no 
such interruptions of the ordinary course of nature 
have taken place in the organic, any more than in 
the inorganic, world, what alternative is there to 
the admission of evolution ? 

The doctrine of evolution in biology is the 
necessary result of the logical application of the 
principles of uniformitarianism to the phenomena 
of life. Darwin is the natural successor of Hutton 
and Lyell, and the " Origin of Species " the logical 
sequence of the " Principles of Geology." 

The fundamental doctrine of the " Origin of 
Species," as of all forms of the theory of evolution 
applied to biology, is " that the innumerable 
species, genera, and families of organic beings with 
which the world is peopled have all descended, 
each within its own class or group, from common 
parents, and have all been modified in the course of 
descent." l 

1 Origin of Species, ed. 1, p. 457. 



VH "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 233 

And, in view of the facts of geology, it follows 
that all living animals and plants " are the lineal 
descendants of those which lived long before the 
Silurian epoch." l 

It is an obvious consequence of this theory of 
descent with modification, as it is sometimes called, 
that all plants and animals, however different they 
may now be, must, at one time or other, have been 
connected by direct or indirect intermediate grada- 
tions, and that the appearance of isolation presented 
by various groups of organic beings must be unreal. 

No part of Mr. Darwin's work ran more directly 
counter to the prepossessions of naturalists twenty 
years ago than this. And such prepossessions were 
very excusable, for there was undoubtedly a great 
deal to be said, at that time, in favour of the fixity 
of species and of the existence of great breaks, 
which there was no obvious or probable means of 
filling up, between various groups of organic beings. 

For various reasons, scientific and unscientific, 
much had been made of the hiatus between man 
and the rest of the higher mammalia, and it is no 
wonder that issue was first joined on this part of 
the controversy. I have no wish to revive past 
and happily forgotten controversies ; but I must 
state the simple fact that the distinctions in the 
cerebral and other characters, which were so hotly 
affirmed to separate man from all other animals in 
1860, have all been demonstrated to be non- 
1 Origin of Species, p. 458. 



234 THE COMING OF AGE OF vil 

existent, and that the contrary doctrine is now 
universally accepted and taught. 

But there were other cases in which the wide 
structural gaps asserted to exist between one group 
of animals and another were by no means fictitious ; 
and, when such structural breaks were real, Mr. 
Darwin could account for them only by supposing 
that the intermediate forms which once existed 
had become extinct. In a remarkable passage he 
says 

" We may thus account even for the distinctness 
of whole classes from each other for instance, of 
birds from all other vertebrate animals by the 
belief that many animal forms of life have been 
utterly lost, through which the early progenitors 
of birds were formerly connected with the early 
progenitors of the other vertebrate classes." 1 

Adverse criticism made merry over such sugges- 
tions as these. Of course it was easy to get out of 
the difficulty by supposing extinction ; but where 
was the slightest evidence that such intermediate 
forms between birds and reptiles as the hypothesis 
required ever existed ? And then probably followed 
a tirade upon this terrible forsaking of the paths 
of " Baconian induction." 

But the progress of knowledge has justified Mr. 

Darwin to an extent which could hardly have 

been anticipated. In 1862, the specimen of 

Archceopteryx, which, until the last two or three 

1 Origin of Species, p. 431. 



VII "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 235 

years, has remained unique, was discovered ; and 
it is an animal which, in its feathers and the 
greater part of its organisation, is a veritable 
bird, while, in other parts, it is as distinctly 
reptilian. 

In 1868, I had the honour of bringing under 
your notice, in this theatre, the results of investi- 
gations made, up to that time, into the anatomical 
characters of certain ancient reptiles, which 
showed the nature of the modifications in virtue 
of which the type of the quadrupedal reptile 
passed into that of a bipedal bird ; and abundant 
confirmatory evidence of the justice of the con- 
clusions which I then laid before you has since 
come to light. 

In 1875, the discovery of the toothed birds of 
the cretaceous formation in North America by 
Professor Marsh completed the series of transitional 
forms between birds and reptiles, and removed 
Mr. Darwin's proposition that "many animal 
forms of life have been utterly lost, through 
which the early progenitors of birds were 
formerly connected with the early progenitors of 
the other vertebrate classes," from the region 
of hypothesis to that of demonstrable fact. 

In 1859, there appeared to be a very sharp 
and clear hiatus between vertebrated and inverte- 
brated animals, not only in their structure, but, 
what was more important, in their development. 
I do not think that we even yet know the precise 



236 THE COMING OF AGE OF vii 

links of. connection between the two ; but the 
investigations of Kowalewsky and others upon 
the development of Amphioxus and of the Tunicata, 
prove, beyond a doubt, that the differences which 
were supposed to constitute a barrier between 
the two are non-existent. There is no longer any 
difficulty in understanding how the vertebrate 
type may have arisen from the invertebrate, 
though the full proof of the manner in which 
the transition was actually effected may still be 
lacking. 

Again, in 1859, there appeared to be a no less 
sharp separation between the two great groups of 
flowering and flowerless plants. It is only subse- 
quently that the series of remarkable investiga- 
tions inaugurated by Hofmeister has brought to 
light the extraordinary and altogether unexpected 
modifications of the reproductive apparatus in the 
Lycopodiacece, the Rhizocarpcce, and the Gymno- 
spermece, by which the ferns and the mosses are 
gradually connected with the Phanerogamic 
division of the vegetable world. 

So, again, it is only since 1859 that we have 
acquired that wealth of knowledge of the lowest 
forms of life which demonstrates the futility of 
any attempt to separate the lowest plants from 
the lowest animals, and shows that the two king- 
doms of living nature have a common borderland 
which belongs to both, or to neither. 

Thus it will be observed that the whole ten- 



VII "THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 237 

dency of biological investigation, since 1859, has 
been in the direction of removing the difficulties 
which the apparent breaks in the series created 
at that time; and the recognition of gradation 
is the first step towards the acceptance of evolu- 
tion. 

As another great factor in bringing about the 
change of opinion which has taken place among 
naturalists, I count the astonishing progress which 
has been made in the study of embryology. 
Twenty years ago, not only were we devoid of any 
accurate knowledge of the mode of development 
of many groups of animals and plants, but the 
methods of investigation were rude and imperfect. 
At the present time, there is no important group 
of organic beings the development of which has 
not been carefully studied ; and the modern 
methods of hardening and section-making enable 
the embryologist to determine the nature of the 
process, in each case, with a degree of minuteness 
and accuracy which is truly astonishing to those 
whose memories carry them back to the 
beginnings of modern histology. And the results 
of these embryological investigations are in com- 
plete harmony with the requirements of the 
doctrine of evolution. The first beginnings of all 
the higher forms of animal life are similar, and 
however diverse their adult conditions, they start 
from a common foundation. Moreover, the pro- 
cess of development of the animal or the plant 



238 THE COMING OF AGE OF yil 

from its primary egg, or germ, is a true process of 
evolution a progress from almost formless to 
more or less highly organised matter, in virtue of 
the properties inherent in that matter. 

To those who are familiar with the process of 
development, all a priori objections to the doctrine 
of biological evolution appear childish. Any one 
who has watched the gradual formation of a com- 
plicated animal from the protoplasmic mass, which 
constitutes the essential element of a frog's or a 
hen's egg, has had under his eyes sufficient 
evidence that a similar evolution of the whole 
animal world from the like foundation is, at any 
rate, possible. 

Yet another product of investigation has 
largely contributed to the removal of the objec- 
tions to the doctrine of evolution current in 1859. 
It is the proof afforded by successive discoveries 
that Mr. Darwin did not over-estimate the 
imperfection of the geological record. No more 
striking illustration of this is needed than a com- 
parison of our knowledge of the mammalian fauna 
of the Tertiary epoch in 1859 with its present 
condition. M. Gaudry's researches on the fossils 
of Pikermi were published in 1868, those of 
Messrs. Leidy, Marsh, and Cope, on the fossils of 
the Western Territories of America, have appeared 
almost wholly since 1870, those of M. Filhol on 
the phosphorites of Quercy in 1878. The general 
effect of these investigations has been to intro- 



Vil " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 239 

duce to us a multitude of extinct animals, the 
existence of which was previously hardly sus- 
pected ; just as if zoologists were to become 
acquainted with a country, hitherto unknown, as 
rich in novel forms of life as Brazil or South 
Africa once were to Europeans. Indeed, the fossil 
fauna of the Western Territories of America bid 
fair to exceed in interest and importance all other 
known Tertiary deposits put together ; and yet, 
with the exception of the case of the American 
tertiaries, these investigations have extended over 
very limited areas ; and, at Pikermi, were con- 
fined to an extremely small space. 

Such appear to me to be the chief events in the 
history of the progress of knowledge during the 
last twenty years, which account for the changed 
feeling with which the doctrine of evolution is at 
present regarded by those who have followed the 
advance of biological science, in respect of those 
problems which bear indirectly upon that doc- 
trine. 

But all this remains mere secondary evidence. 
It may remove dissent, but it does not compel 
assent. Primary and direct evidence in favour of U 
evolution can be furnished only by palaeontology. . 
The geological record, so soon as it approaches 
completeness, must, when properly questioned, 
yield either an affirmative or a negative answer : 
if evolution has taken place, there will its mark 



240 THE COMING OF AGE OF vn 

be left ; if it has not taken place, there will lie 
its refutation. 

What was the state of matters in 1859 ? Let 
us hear Mr. Darwin, who may be trusted always 
to state the case against himself as strongly as 
possible. 

" On this doctrine of the extermination of an 
infinitude of connecting links between the living 
and extinct inhabitants of the world, and at each 
successive period between the extinct and still 
older species, why is not every geological forma- 
tion charged with such links ? Why does not 
every collection of fossil remains afford plain 
evidence .of the gradation and mutation of the 
forms of life ? We meet with no such evidence, 
and this is the most obvious and plausible of the 
many objections which may be urged against my 
theory." 1 

Nothing could have been more useful to the 
opposition than this characteristically candid 
avowal, twisted as it immediately was into an 
admission that the writer's views were contra- 
dicted by the facts of palaeontology. But, in fact, 
Mr. Darwin made no such admission. What he 
says in effect is, not that palaeontological evidence 
is against him, but that it is not distinctly in his 
favour ; and, without attempting to attenuate the 
fact, he accounts for it by the scantiness and the 
imperfection of that evidence. 

1 Origin of Species, ed. 1, p. 463. 



VII " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 241 

What is the state of the case now, when, as we 
have seen, the amount of our knowledge respect- 
ing the mammalia of the Tertiary epoch is 
increased fifty-fold, and in some directions even 
approaches completeness ? 

Simply this, that, if the doctrine of evolution 
had not existed, palaeontologists must have in- 
vented it, so irresistibly is it forced upon the 
mind by the study of the remains of the Tertiary 
mammalia which have been brought to light since 
1859. 

Among the fossils of Pikermi, Gaudry found 
the successive stages by which the ancient civets 
passed into the more modern hyaenas ; through 
the Tertiary deposits of Western America, Marsh 
tracked the successive forms by which the ancient 
stock of the horse has passed into its present 
form ; and innumerable less complete indications of 
the mode of evolution of other groups of the 
higher mammalia have been obtained. In the 
remarkable memoir on the phosphorites of 
Quercy, to which I have referred, M. Filhol de- 
scribes no fewer than seventeen varieties of the 
genus Cynodictis, which fill up all the interval 
between the viverine animals and the bear-like 
dog Amphicyon ; nor do I know any solid ground 
of objection to the supposition that, in this 
Cynodictis-Amphicyon group, we have the stock 
whence all the Viveridse, Felidae, Hyaenidae, 
Canidae, and perhaps the Procyonidoe and Ursidae, 



242 THE COMING OF AGE OF vn 

of the present fauna have been evolved. On 
the contrary, there is a great deal to be said in 
favour. 

In the course of summing up his results, M. 
Filhol observes : 

" During the epoch of the phosphorites, great 
changes took place in animal forms, and almost 
the same types as those which now exist became 
defined from one another. 

" Under the influence of natural conditions of 
which we have no exact knowledge, though traces 
of them are discoverable, species have been modi- 
fied in a thousand ways : races have arisen which, 
becoming fixed, have thus produced a corresponding 
number of secondary species." 

In 1859, language of which this is an uninten- 
tional paraphrase, occurring in the " Origin of 
Species," was scouted as wild speculation ; at pres- 
ent, it is a sober statement of the conclusions to 
which an acute and critically-minded investigator 
is led by large and patient study of the facts of 
palaeontology. I venture to repeat what I have 
said before, that so far as the animal world is 
concerned, evolution is no longer a speculation, but 
a statement of historical fact. It takes its place 
alongside of those accepted truths which must be 
reckoned with by philosophers of all schools. 

Thus when, on the first day of October next, 
" The Origin of Species " comes of age, the pro- 
mise of its youth will be amply fulfilled ; and we 



VII " THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES " 243 

shall be prepared to congratulate the venerated 
author of the book, not only that the greatness of 
his achievement and its enduring influence upon 
the progress of knowledge have won him a place 
beside our Harvey ; but, still more, that, like 
Harvey, he has lived long enough to outlast 
detraction and opposition, and to see the stone 
that the builders rejected become the head-stone 
of the corner. 



Till 
CHARLES DARWIN 

[Nature, April 27th, 1882] 

VERY few, even among those who have taken the 
keenest interest in the progress of the revolution 
in natural knowledge set afoot by the publication 
of " The Origin of Species," and who have watched, 
not without astonishment, the rapid and complete 
change which has been effected both inside and 
outside the boundaries of the scientific world in 
the attitude of men's minds towards the doctrines 
which are expounded in that great work, can have 
been prepared for the extraordinary manifestation 
of affectionate regard for the man, and of profound 
reverence for the philosopher, which followed the 
announcement, on Thursday last, of the death of 
Mr. Darwin. 

Not only in these islands, where so many have 
felt the fascination of personal contact with an 



VIII 



CHARLES DARWIN 245 



intellect which had no superior, and with a charac- 
ter which was even nobler than the intellect ; but, 
in all parts of the civilised world, it would seem 
that those whose business it is to feel the pulse of 
nations and to know what interests the masses of 
mankind, were well aware that thousands of their 
readers would think the world the poorer for 
Darwin's death, and would dwell with eager 
interest upon every incident of his history. In 
France, in Germany, in Austro-Hungary, in Italy, 
in the United States, writers of all shades of 
opinion, for once unanimous, have paid a willing 
tribute to the worth of our great countryman, 
ignored in life by the official representatives of the 
kingdom, but laid in death among his peers in 
Westminster Abbey by the will of the intelligence 
of the nation. 

It is not for us to allude to the sacred sorrows 
of the bereaved home at Down ; but it is no secret 
that, outside that domestic group, there are many 
to whom Mr. Darwin's death is a wholly irreparable 
loss. And this not merely because of his wonder- 
fully genial, simple, and generous nature; his 
cheerful and animated conversation, and the in- 
finite variety and accuracy of his information ; but 
because the more one knew of him, the more he 
seemed the incorporated ideal of a man of science. 
Acute as were his reasoning powers, vast as was 
his knowledge, marvellous as was his tenacious 
industry, under physical difficulties which would 



246 CHARLES DARWIN VIII 

have converted nine men out of ten into aimless 
invalids ; it was not these qualities, great as they 
were, which impressed those who were admitted 
to his intimacy with involuntary veneration, but a 
certain intense and almost passionate honesty by 
which all his thoughts and actions were irradiated, 
as by a central fire. 

It was this rarest and greatest of endowments 
which kept his vivid imagination and great specu- 
lative powers within due bounds ; which compelled 
him to undertake the prodigious labours of original 
investigation and of reading, upon which his 
published works are based ; which made him 
accept criticisms and suggestions from anybody 
and everybody, not only without impatience, but 
with expressions of gratitude sometimes almost 
comically in excess of their value ; which led him 
to allow neither himself nor others to be deceived 
by phrases, and to spare neither time nor pains 
in order to obtain clear and distinct ideas upon 
every topic with which he occupied himself. 

One could not converse with Darwin without 
being reminded of Socrates. There was the same 
desire to find some one wiser than himself; the 
same belief in the sovereignty of reason ; the same 
ready humour ; the same sympathetic interest in 
all the ways and works of men. But instead of 
turning away from the problems of Nature as 
hopelessly insoluble, our modern philosopher 
devoted his whole life to attacking them in the 



VIII CHARLES DARWIN 247 

spirit of Heraclitus and of Democritus, with results 
which are the substance of which their specula- 
tions were anticipatory shadows. 

The due appreciation, or even enumeration, of 
these results is neither practicable nor desirable at 
this moment. There is a time for all things a 
time for glorying in our ever-extending conquests 
over the realm of Nature, and a time for mourning 
over the heroes who have led us to victory. 

None have fought better, and none have been 
more fortunate, than Charles Darwin. He found 
a great truth trodden underfoot, reviled by bigots, 
and ridiculed by all the world ; he lived long 
enough to see it, chiefly by his own efforts, 
irrefragably established in science, inseparably 
incorporated with the common thoughts of men, 
and only hated and feared by those who would 
revile, but dare not. What shall a man desire 
more than this ? Once more the image of Socrates 
rises unbidden, and the noble peroration of the 
" Apology " rings in our ears as if it were Charles 
Darwin's farewell : 

" The hour of departure has arrived, and we go 
our ways I to die and you to live. Which is the 
better, God only knows." 



45 



IX 

THE DARWIN MEMORIAL 

[June 9th, 1885] 

Address "by the President of the Royal Society, in the 
name of the Memorial Committee, on handing over 
the statue of Darwin to H.R.H. the Prince of 
Wales, as representative of the Trustees of the 
British Museum. 

YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS, It is now three years 
since the announcement of the death of our famous 
countryman, Charles Darwin, gave rise to a 
manifestation of public feeling, not only in these 
realms, but throughout the civilised world, which, 
if I mistake not, is without precedent in the 
modest annals of scientific biography. 

The causes of this deep and wide outburst of 
emotion are not far to seek. We had lost one of 
these rare ministers and interpreters of Nature 
whose names mark epochs in the advance of 



IX THE DARWIN MEMORIAL 249 

natural knowledge. For, whatever be the ultimate 
verdict of posterity upon this or that opinion 
which Mr. Darwin has propounded ; whatever 
adumbrations or anticipations of his doctrines may 
be found in the writings of his predecessors ; the 
broad fact remains that, since the publication and 
by reason of the publication, of " The Origin of 
Species " the fundamental conceptions and the 
aims of the students of living Nature have been 
completely changed. From that work has sprung 
a great renewal, a true " instauratio magna " of the 
zoological and botanical sciences. 

But the impulse thus given to scientific thought 
rapidly spread beyond the ordinarily recognised 
limits of biology. Psychology, Ethics, Cosmology 
were stirred to their foundations, and the " Origin 
of Species" proved itself to be the fixed point 
which the general doctrine of evolution needed in 
order to move the world. " Darwinism," in one 
form or another, sometimes strangely distorted 
and mutilated, became an everyday topic of men's 
speech, the object of an abundance both of 
vituperation and of praise, more often than of 
serious study. 

It is curious now to remember how largely, at 
first, the objectors predominated ; but considering 
the usual fate of new views, it is still more 
curious to consider for how short a time the phase 
of vehement opposition lasted. Before twenty 
years had passed, not only had the importance of 



250 THE DARWIN MEMORIAL is 

Mr. Darwin's work been fully recognised, but the 
world had discerned the simple, earnest, generous 
character of the man, that shone through every 
page of his writings. 

I imagine that reflections such as these swept 
through the minds alike of loving friends and of 
honourable antagonists when Mr. Darwin died ; 
and that they were at one in the desire to honour 
the memory of the man who, without fear and 
without reproach, had successfully fought the 
hardest intellectual battle of these days. 

It was in satisfaction of these just and generous 
impulses that our great naturalist's remains were 
deposited in Westminster Abbey ; and that, im- 
mediately- afterwards, a public meeting, presided 
over by my lamented predecessor, Mr. Spottiswoode, 
was held in the rooms of the Royal Society, 
for the purpose of considering what further step 
should be taken towards the same end. 

It was resolved to invite subscriptions, with the 
view of erecting a statue of Mr. Darwin in some 
suitable locality ; and to devote any surplus to the 
advancement of the biological sciences. 

Contributions at once flowed in from Austria, 
Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, 
Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, 
Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and the 
British Colonies, no less than from all parts of the 
three kingdoms ; and they came from all classes of 
the community. To mention one interesting case, 



IX THE DARWIN MEMORIAL 251 

Sweden sent in 2296 subscriptions "from all sorts 
of people," as the distinguished man of science 
who transmitted them wrote, " from the bishop to 
the seamstress, and in sums from five pounds to 
two pence." 

The Executive Committee has thus been enabled 
to carry out the objects proposed. A " Darwin 
Fund " has been created, which is to be held in 
trust by the Royal Society, and is to be employed 
in the promotion of biological research. 

The execution of the statue was entrusted to 
Mr. Boehm ; and I think that those who had the 
good fortune to know Mr. Darwin personally will 
admire the power of artistic divination, which has 
enabled the sculptor to place before us so very 
characteristic a likeness of one whom he had not 
seen. 

It appeared to the Committee that, whether they 
regarded Mr. Darwin's career or the requirements 
of a work of art, no site could be so appropriate as 
this great hall, and they applied to the Trustees of 
the British Museum for permission to erect it in 
its present position. 

That permission was most cordially granted, and 
I am desired to tender the best thanks of the 
Committee to the Trustees for their willingness to 
accede to our wishes. 

I also beg leave to offer the expression of our 
gratitude to your Royal Highness for kindly con- 
senting to represent the Trustees to-day. 



252 THE DARWIN MEMORIAL ix 

It only remains for me, your Royal Highness, 
my Lords and Gentlemen, Trustees of the British 
Museum, in the name of the Darwin Memorial 
Committee, to request you to accept this statue of 
Charles Darwin. 

We do not make this request for the mere sake 
of perpetuating a memory ; for so long as men 
occupy themselves with the pursuit of truth, the 
name of Darwin runs no more risk of oblivion 
than does that of Copernicus, or that of Harvey. 

Nor, most assuredly, do we ask you to preserve 
the statue in its cynosural position in this 
entrance-hall of our National Museum of Natural 
History as evidence that Mr. Darwin's views have 
received your official sanction ; for science does not 
recognise such sanctions, and commits suicide 
when it adopts a creed. 

No ; we beg you to cherish this Memorial as a 
symbol by which, as generation after generation of 
students of Nature enter yonder door, they shall 
be reminded of the ideal according to which they 
must shape their lives, if they would turn to the 
best account the opportunities offered by the 
great institution under your charge. 



OBITUARY i 

[1888] 

CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN was the fifth child 
and second son of Robert Waring Darwin and 
Susannah Wedgwood, and was born on the 12th 
February, 1809, at Shrewsbury, where his father 
was a physician in large practice. 

Mrs. Robert Darwin died when her son Charles 
was only eight years old, and he hardly remem- 
bered her. A daughter of the famous Josiah 
Wedgwood, who created a new branch of the 
potter's art, and established the great works of 
Etruria, could hardly fail to transmit important 
mental and moral qualities to her children ; and 
there is a solitary record of her direct influence 
in the story told by a schoolfellow, who remembers 
Charles Darwin " bringing a flower to school, and 

1 From the Obituary Notices of the Proceedings of the Royal 
Society, vol. 44. 



254 OBITUARY X 

saying that his mother had taught him how, by 
looking at the inside of the blossom, the name of 
the plant could be discovered." (I., p. 28. 1 ) 

The theory that men of genius derive their 
qualities from their mothers, however, can hardly 
derive support from Charles Darwin's case, in the 
face of the patent influence of his paternal fore- 
fathers. Dr. Darwin, i'ideed, though a man of 
marked individuality of character, a quick and 
acute observer, with much practical sagacity, is 
said not to have had a scientific mind. But when 
his son adds that his father " formed a theory for 
almost everything that occurred " (I., p. 20), he 
indicates a highly probable source for that' in- 
ability to refrain from forming an hypothesis on 
every subject which he confesses to be one of the 
leading characteristics of his own mind, some 
pages further on (I., p. 103). Dr. R. W. Darwin, 
again, was the third son of Erasmus Darwin, also 
a physician of great repute, who shared the 
intimacy of Watt and Priestley, and was 
widely known as the author of " Zoonomia," and 
other voluminous poetical and prose works which 
had a great vogue in the latter half of the 
eighteenth century. The celebrity which they 
enjoyed was in part due to the attractive style (at 
least according to the taste of that day) in which 
the author's extensive, though not very profound, 

1 The references throughout this notice are to the Life and 
Letters, unless the contrary is expressly stated. 



X OBITUARY 255 

acquaintance with natural phenomena was set 
forth ; but in a still greater degree, probably, to 
the boldness of the speculative views, always 
ingenious and sometimes fantastic, in which he 
indulged. The conception of evolution set afoot 
by De Maillet and others, in the early part of the 
century, not only found a vigorous champion in 
Erasmus Darwin, but he propounded an hypo- 
thesis as to the manner in which the species of 
animals and plants have acquired their characters, 
which is identical in principle with that subse- 
quently rendered famous by Lamarck. 

That Charles Darwin's chief intellectual in- 
heritance came to him from the paternal side, 
then, is hardly doubtful. But there is nothing to 
show that he was, to any sensible extent, directly 
influenced by his grandfather's biological work. 
He tells us that a perusal of the " Zoonomia " in 
early life produced no effect upon him, although 
he greatly admired it ; and that, on reading it again, 
ten or fifteen years afterwards, he was much disap- 
pointed, "the proportion of speculation being so 
large to the facts given." But with his usual 
anxious candour he adds, " Nevertheless, it is proba- 
ble that the hearing, rather early in life, such views 
maintained and praised, may have favoured my 
upholding them, in a different form, in my ' Origin 
of Species.' " (I., p. 38.) Erasmus Darwin was in 
fact an anticipator of Lamarck, and not of Charles 
Darwin : there is no trace in his works of the 



256 OBITUARY X 

conceptions by the addition of which his grandson 
metamorphosed the theory of evolution as applied 
to living things and gave it a new foundation. 

Charles Darwin's childhood and youth afforded 
no intimation that he would be, or do, anything 
out of the common run. In fact, the prognosti- 
cations of the educational authorities into whose 
hands he first fell were most distinctly unfavour- 
able ; and they counted the only boy of original 
genius who is known to have come under their 
hands as no better than a dunce. The history of 
the educational experiments to which Darwin was 
subjected is curious, and not without a moral for 
the present generation. There were four of them, 
and three were failures. Yet it cannot be said 
that the materials on which the pedagogic powers 
operated were other than good. In his boyhood 
Darwin was strong, well-grown, and active, taking 
the keen delight in field sports and in every 
description of hard physical exercise which is 
natural to an English country-bred lad ; and, in 
respect of things of the mind, he was neither 
apathetic, nor idle, nor one-sided. The "Auto- 
biography " tells us that he " had much 
zeal for whatever interested " him, and he was 
interested in many and very diverse topics. 
He could work hard, and liked a complex 
subject better than an easy one. The " clear 
geometrical proofs " of Euclid delighted him. 
His interest in practical chemistry, carried out in 



X OBITUARY 257 

an extemporised laboratory, in which he was per- 
mitted to assist by his elder brother, kept him 
late at work, and earned him the nickname of 
" gas " among his schoolfellows. And there could 
have been no insensibility to literature in one 
who, as a boy, could sit for hours reading Shake- 
speare, Milton, Scott, and Byron; who greatly 
admired some of the Odes of Horace ; and who, 
in later years, on board the " Beagle," when only 
one book could be carried on an expedition, 
chose a volume of Milton for his companion. 

Industry, intellectual interests, the capacity for 
taking pleasure in deductive reasoning, in obser- 
vation, in experiment, no less than in the highest 
works of imagination : where these qualities are 
present any rational system of education should 
surely be able to make something of them. Un- 
fortunately for Darwin, the Shrewsbury Grammar 
School, though good of its kind, was an institution 
of a type universally prevalent in this country half 
a century ago, and by no means extinct at the 
present day. The education given was "strictly 
classical," "especial attention" being "paid to 
verse-making," while all other subjects, except a 
little ancient geography and history, were ignored. 
Whether, as in some famous English schools at that 
date and much later, elementary arithmetic was 
also left out of sight does not appear ; but the 
instruction in Euclid which gave Charles Darwin 
so much satisfaction was certainly supplied by a 



258 OBITUARY X 

private tutor. That a boy, even in his leisure 
hours, should permit himself to be interested in 
any but book-learning seems to have been regarded 
as little better than an outrage by the head master, 
who thought it his duty to administer a public 
rebuke to young Darwin for wasting his time 
on such a contemptible subject as chemistry. 
English composition and literature, modern lan- 
guages, modern history, modern geography, appear 
to have been considered to be as despicable as 
chemistry. 

For seven long years Darwin got through his 
appointed tasks ; construed without cribs, learned 
by rote whatever was demanded, and concocted 
his verses in approved schoolboy fashion. And 
the result, as it appeared to his mature judgment, 
was simply negative. " The school as a means of 
education to me was simply a blank." (I. p. 32.) 
On the other hand, the extraneous chemical 
exercises, which the head master treated so 
contumelious] y, are gratefully spoken of as the 
" best part " of his education while at school. 
Such is the judgment of the scholar on the school ; 
as might be expected, it has its counterpart in the 
judgment of the school on the scholar. The 
collective intelligence of the staff of Shrewsbury 
School could find nothing but dull mediocrity in 
Charles Darwin. The mind that found satisfac- 
tion in knowledge, but very little in mere learning ; 
that could appreciate literature, but had no par- 



X OBITUARY 259 

ticular aptitude for grammatical exercises ; appeared 
to the " strictly classical" pedagogue to be no mind 
at all. As a matter of fact, Darwin's school 
education left him ignorant of almost all the 
things which it would have been well for him to 
know, and untrained in all the things it would 
have been useful for him to be able to do, in 
after life. Drawing, practice in English compo- 
sition, and instruction in the elements of the 
physical sciences, would not only have been infi- 
nitely valuable to him in reference to his future 
career, but would have furnished the discipline 
suited to his faculties, whatever that career might 
be. And a knowledge of French and German, 
especially the latter, would have removed from his 
path obstacles which he never fully overcame. 

Thus, starved and stunted on the intellectual 
side, it is not surprising that Charles Darwin's 
energies were directed towards athletic amuse- 
ments and sport, to such an extent, that even his 
kind and sagacious father could be exasperated 
into telling him that " he cared for nothing but 
shooting, dogs, and rat-catching." (I. p. 32.) It 
would be unfair to expect even the wisest of fathers 
to have foreseen that the shooting and the rat- 
catching, as training in the ways of quick observa- 
tion and in physical endurance, would prove more 
valuable than the construing and verse-making to 
his son, whose attempt, at a later period of his life, 
to persuade himself <; that shooting was almost an 



260 OBITUARY X 

intellectual employment : it required so much skill 
to judge where to find most game, and to hunt the 
dogs well " (I. p. 43), was by no means so sophis- 
tical as he seems to have been ready to admit. 

In 1825, Dr. Darwin came to the very just con- 
clusion that his son Charles would do no good by 
remaining at Shrewsbury School, and sent him to 
join his elder brother Erasmus, who was studying 
medicine at Edinburgh, with the intention that 
the younger son should also become a medical 
practitioner. Both sons, however, were well aware 
that their inheritance would relieve them from the 
urgency of the struggle for existence which most 
professional men have to face ; and they seemed to 
have allowed their tastes, rather than the medical 
curriculum, to have guided their studies. Erasmus 
Darwin was debarred by constant ill-health from 
seeking the public distinction which his high in- 
telligence and extensive knowledge would, under 
ordinary circumstances, have insured. He took 
no great interest in biological subjects, but his 
companionship must have had its influence on 
his brother. Still more was exerted by friends 
like Coldstream and Grant, both subsequently 
well-known zoologists (and the latter an enthu- 
siastic Lamarckian), by whom Darwin was induced 
to interest himself in marine zoology. A notice 
of the ciliated germs of FLustra, communicated to 
the Plinian Society in 1826, was the first fruits of 
Darwin's half century of scientific work. Occa- 



X OBITUARY 261 

sional attendance at the Wernerian Society brought 
him into relation with that excellent ornithologist 
the elder Macgillivray, and enabled him to see and 
hear Audubon. Moreover, he got lessons in bird- 
stuffing from a negro, who had accompanied the 
eccentric traveller Waterton in his wanderings, 
before settling in Edinburgh. 

No doubt Darwin picked up a great deal of 
valuable knowledge during his two years' residence 
in Scotland ; but it is equally clear that next to 
none of it came through the regular channels of 
academic education. Indeed, the influence of the 
Edinburgh professoriate appears to have been 
mainly negative, and in some cases deterrent ; 
creating in his mind, not only a very low estimate 
of the value of lectures, but an antipathy to the 
subjects which had been the occasion of the 
boredom inflicted upon him by their instrument- 
ality. With the exception of Hope, the Professor 
of Chemistry, Darwin found them all " intolerably 
dull." Forty years afterwards he writes of the 
lectures of the Professor of Materia Medica that 
they were " fearful to remember." The Professor 
of Anatomy made his lectures " as dull as he was 
himself," and he must have been very dull to have 
wrung from his victim the sharpest personal remark 
recorded as his. But the climax seems to have 
been attained by the Professor of Geology and 
Zoology, whose preelections were so " incredibly 
dull " that they produced in their hearer the some- 



262 OBITUARY 2 

what rash determination never " to read a book on 
geology or in any way to study the science " so 
long as he lived. (I. p. 41.) 

There is much reason to believe that the 
lectures in question were eminently qualified to 
produce the impression which they made ; and 
there can be little doubt, that Darwin's conclusion 
that his time was better employed in reading 
than in listening to such lectures was a sound 
one. But it was particularly unfortunate that 
the personal and professorial dulness of the 
Professor of Anatomy, combined with Darwin's 
sensitiveness to the disagreeable concomitants of 
anatomical work, drove him away from the 
dissecting room. In after life, he justly recognised 
that this was an " irremediable evil " in reference 
to the pursuits he eventually adopted ; indeed, it 
is marvellous that he succeeded in making up for 
his lack of anatomical discipline, so far as his 
work on the Cirri pedes shows he did. And the 
neglect of anatomy had the further unfortunate 
result that it excluded him from the best 
opportunity of bringing himself into direct contact 
with the facts of nature which the University had 
to offer. In those days, almost the only practical 
scientific work accessible to students was anatomi- 
cal, and the only laboratory at their disposal the 
dissecting room. 

We may now console ourselves with the 
reflection that the partial evil was the general 



X OBITUARY 263 

good. Darwin had already shown an aptitude for 
practical medicine (I. p. 37) ; and his subsequent 
career proved that he had the making of an 
excellent anatomist. Thus, though his horror of 
operations would probably have shut him off from 
surgery, there was nothing to prevent him (any 
more than the same peculiarity prevented his 
father) from passing successfully through the 
medical curriculum and becoming, like his father 
and grandfather, a successful physician, in which 
case " The Origin of Species " would not have been 
written. Darwin has jestingly alluded to the 
fact that the shape of his nose (to which Captain 
Fitzroy objected), nearly prevented his embarka- 
tion in the " Beagle " ; it may be that the 
sensitiveness of that organ secured him for 
science. 

At the end of two years' residence in Edin- 
burgh it hardly needed Dr. Darwin's sagacity to 
conclude that a young man, who found nothing 
but dulness in professorial lucubrations, could not 
bring himself to endure a dissecting room, fled 
from operations, and did not need a profession as 
a means of livelihood, was hardly likely to 
distinguish himself as a student of medicine. He 
therefore made a new suggestion, proposing that 
his son should enter an English University and 
qualify for the ministry of the Church. Charles 
Darwin found the proposal agreeable, none the 
less, probably, that a good deal of natural history 

46 



264 OBITUARY X 

and a little shooting were by no means held, 
at that time, to be incompatible with the 
conscientious performance of the duties of a 
country clergyman. But it is characteristic of the 
man, that he asked time for consideration, in 
order that he might satisfy himself that he could 
sign the Thirty-nine Articles with a clear con- 
science. However, the study of " Pearson on the 
Creeds " and a few other books of divinity soon 
assured him that his religious opinions left 
nothing to be desired on the score of orthodoxy, 
and he acceded to his father's proposition. 

The English University selected was Cambridge; 
but an unexpected obstacle arose from the fact 
that, within the two years which had elapsed, 
since the young man who had enjoyed seven 
years of the benefit of a strictly classical education 
had left school, he had forgotten almost every- 
thing he had learned there, " even to some few of 
the Greek letters." (I. p. 46.) Three months 
with a tutor, however, brought him back to the 
point of translating Homer and the Greek Testa- 
ment " with moderate facility," and Charles 
Darwin commenced the third educational experi- 
ment of which he was the subject, and was en- 
tered on the books of Christ's College in October 
1827. So far as the direct results of the academic 
training thus received are concerned, the English 
University was not more successful than the 
Scottish. " During the three years which I spent 



X OBITUARY 265 

at Cambridge my time was wasted, as far as the 
academical studies were concerned, as completely 
as at Edinburgh and as at school." (I. p. 46.) 
And yet, as before, there is ample evidence that 
this negative result cannot be put down to any 
native defect on the part of the scholar. Idle and 
dull young men, or even young men who being 
neither idle nor dull, are incapable of caring for 
anything but some hobby, do not devote them- 
selves to the thorough study of Paley's " Moral 
Philosophy," and " Evidences of Christianity " ; 
nor are their reminiscences of this particular 
portion of their studies expressed in terms such 
as the following : " The logic of this book [the 
' Evidences '] and, as I may add, of his ' Natural 
Theology' gave me as much delight as did 
Euclid." (I. p. 47.) 

The collector's instinct, strong in Darwin from 
his childhood, as is usually the case in great 
naturalists, turned itself in the direction of Insects 
during his residence at Cambridge. In childhood 
it had been damped by the moral scruples of a 
sister, as to the propriety of catching and killing 
insects for the mere sake of possessing them, but 
now it broke out afresh, and Darwin became an 
enthusiastic beetle collector. Oddly enough he 
took no scientific interest in beetles, not even 
troubling himself to make out their names ; his 
delight lay in the capture of a species which 
turned out to be rare or new, and still more in 



266 OBITUARY X 

finding his name, as captor, recorded in print. 
Evidently, this beetle-hunting hobby had little to 
do with science, but was mainly a new phase of 
the old and undiminished love of sport. In the 
intervals of beetle- catching, when shooting and 
hunting were not to be had, riding across country 
answered the purpose. These tastes naturally 
threw the young undergraduate among a set of 
men who preferred hard riding: to hard reading, 
and wasted the midnight oil upon other pursuits 
than that of academic distinction. A superficial 
observer might have had some grounds to fear 
that Dr. Darwin's wrathful prognosis might yet be 
verified. But if the eminently social tendencies 
of a vigorous and genial nature sought an outlet 
among a set of jovial sporting friends, there were 
other and no less strong proclivities which 
brought him into relation with associates of a very 
different stamp. 

Though almost without ear and with a very 
defective memory for music, Darwin was so 
strongly and pleasurably affected by it that he 
became a member of a musical society; and an 
equal lack of natural capacity for drawing did not 
prevent him from studying good works of art with 
much care. 

An acquaintance with even the rudiments of 
physical science was no part of the requirements 
for the ordinary Cambridge degree. But there 
were professors both of Geology and of Botany 



X OBITUARY 267 

whose lectures were accessible to those who chose 
to attend them. The occupants of these chairs, in 
Darwin's time, were eminent men and also admir- 
able lecturers in their widely different styles. The 
horror of geological lectures which Darwin had 
acquired at Edinburgh, unfortunately prevented 
him from going within reach of the fervid elo- 
quence of Sedgwick ; but he attended the botanical 
course, and though he paid no serious attention to 
the subject, he took great delight in the country 
excursions, which Henslow so well knew how to 
make both pleasant and instructive. The 
Botanical Professor was, in fact, a man of rare 
character and singularly extensive acquirements 
in all branches of natural history. It was his 
greatest pleasure to place his stores of knowledge 
at the disposal of the young men who gathered 
about him, and who found in him, not merely an 
encyclopedic teacher but a wise counsellor, and, 
in case of worthiness, a warm friend. Darwin's 
acquaintance with him soon ripened into a friend- 
ship which was terminated only by Henslow's 
death in 1861, when his quondam pupil gave 
touching expression to his sense of what he owed 
to one whom he calls (in one of his letters) his 
" dear old master in Natural History." (II. p. 217.) 
It was by Henslow's advice that Darwin was led 
to break the vow he had registered against making 
an acquaintance with geology ; and it was through 
Henslow's good offices with Sedgwick that he 



268 OBITUARY X 

obtained the opportunity of accompanying the 
Geological Professor on one of his excursions in 
Wales. He then received a certain amount of 
practical instruction in Geology, the value of which 
he subsequently warmly acknowledged. (I. p. 
237.) In another direction, Henslow did him an 
immense, though not altogether intentional 
service, by recommending him to buy and study 
the recently published first volume of Lyell's 
" Principles." As an orthodox geologist of the 
then dominant catastrophic school, Henslow 
accompanied his recommendation with the 
admonition on no account to adopt Lyell's 
general views. But the warning fell on deaf 
ears, and it is hardly too much to say that 
Darwin's greatest work is the outcome of the 
unflinching application to Biology of the leading 
idea and the method applied in the "Principles" 
to geology. 1 Finally, it was through Henslow, 
and at his suggestion, that Darwin was offered the 
appointment to the " Beagle " as naturalist. 

During the latter part of Darwin's residence at 
Cambridge the prospect of entering the Church, 
though the plan was never formally renounced, 

1 "After my return to England it appeared to me that by 
following the example of Lyell in Geology, and by collecting all 
facts which bore in anyway on the variation of animals and 
plants under domestication and nature, some light might per- 
haps be thrown on the whole subject [of the origin of species]." 
(I. p. 83.) See also the dedication of the second edition of the 
Journal of a Naturalist. 



X OBITUARY 269 

seems to have grown very shadowy. Humboldt's 
" Personal Narrative," and Herschel's " Introduc- 
tion to the Study of Natural Philosophy," fell in 
his way and revealed to him his real vocation. 
The impression made by the former work was 
very strong. " My whole course of life," says 
Darwin in sending a message to Humboldt, " is 
due to having read and re-read, as a youth, his 
personal narrative." (I. p. 336.) The description 
of Teneriffe inspired Darwin with such a strong 
desire to visit the island, that he took some steps , 
towards going there inquiring about ships, and 
so on. 

But, while this project was fermenting, Henslow, 
who had been asked to recommend a naturalist for 
Captain Fitzroy's projected expedition, at once 
thought of his pupil. In his letter of the 24th 
August, 1831, he says : " I have stated that I 
consider you to be the best qualified person I know 
of who is likely to undertake such a situation. I 
state this not on the supposition of your being a 
finished naturalist, but as amply qualified for 
collecting, observing, and noting anything worthy 
to be noted in Natural History .... The voyage 
is to last two years, and if you take plenty of 
books with you, anything you please may be done." 
(I. p. 193.) The state of the case could not have 
been better put. Assuredly the young naturalist's 
theoretical and practical scientific training had 
gone no further than might suffice for the outfit 



270 OBITUARY x 

of an intelligent collector and note-taker. He was 
fully conscious of the fact, and his ambition hardly 
rose above the hope that he should bring back 
materials for the scientific " lions " at home of 
sufficient excellence to prevent them from turning 
and rending him. (I. p. 248.) 

But a fourth educational experiment was to be 
tried. This time Nature took him in hand herself 
and showed him the way by which, to borrow 
Henslow's prophetic phrase, " anything he pleased 
might be done." 

The conditions of life presented by a ship-of-war 
of only 242 tons burthen, would not, primd facie, 
appear to be so favourable to intellectual develop- 
ment as those offered by the cloistered retirement 
of Christ's College. Darwin had not even a cabin 
to himself; while, in addition to the hindrances 
and interruptions incidental to sea-life, which can 
be appreciated only by those who have had 
experience of them, sea-sickness came on whenever 
the little ship was " lively " ; and, considering the 
circumstances of the cruise, that must have been 
her normal state. Nevertheless, Darwin found on 
board the " Beagle " that which neither the 
pedagogues of Shrewsbury, nor the professoriate 
of "Edinburgh, nor the tutors of Cambridge had 
managed to give him. " I have always felt that I 
owe to the voyage the first real training or 
education of my mind (I. p. 61) ; " and in a letter 
Written as he was leaving England, he calls the 



X OBITUARY 271 

voyage on which he was starting, with just insight, 
his " second life." (I. p. 214.) Happily for Darwin's 
education, the school time of the " Beagle " lasted 
five years instead of two; and the countries 
which the ship visited were singularly well fitted 
to provide him with object-lessons, on the nature 
of things, of the greatest value. 

While at sea, he diligently collected, studied, 
and made copious notes upon the surface Fauna. 
But with no previous training in dissection, hardly 
any power of drawing, and next to no knowledge 
of comparative anatomy, his occupation with work 
of this kind notwithstanding all his zeal and 
industry resulted, for the most part, in a 
vast accumulation of useless manuscript. Some 
acquaintance with the marine Crustacea, observa- 
tions on Planarice and on the ubiquitous Sagitta, 
seem to have been the chief results of a great 
amount of labour in this direction. 

It was otherwise with the terrestrial phenomena 
which came under the voyager's notice : and 
Geology very soon took her revenge for the scorn 
which the much-bored Edinburgh student had 
poured upon her. Three weeks after leaving 
England the ship touched land for the first time 
at St. Jago, in the Cape de Verd Islands, and 
Darwin found his attention vividly engaged by the 
volcanic phenomena and the signs of upheaval 
which the island presented. His geological 
studies had already indicated the direction in : 



272 OBITUARY X 

which a great deal might be done, beyond collect- 
ing ; and it was while sitting beneath a low lava 
cliff on the shore of this island, that a sense of his 
real capability first dawned upon Darwin, and 
prompted the ambition to write a book on the 
geology of the various countries visited. (I. p. 66.) 
Even at this early date, Darwin must have thought 
much on geological topics, for he was already 
convinced of the superiority of Lyell's views to 
those entertained by the catastrophists l ; and his 
subsequent study of the tertiary deposits and of the 
terraced gravel beds of South America was 
eminently fitted to strengthen that conviction. 
The letters from South America contain little 
reference to any scientific topic except geology ; 
and even the theory of the formation of coral 
reefs was prompted by the evidence of extensive 
and gradual changes of level afforded by the 
geology of South America ; " No other work of 
mine," he says, " was begun in so deductive a spirit 
as this ; for the whole theory was thought out on 
the West Coast of South America, before I had 
seen a true coral reef. I had, therefore, only to 
verify and extend my views by a careful exam- 

1 "I had brought with me the first volume of Lyell's Principles 
of Geology, which I studied attentively ; and the book was of 
the highest service to me in many ways. The very first place 
which I examined, namely, St. Jago, in the Cape de Verd 
Islands, showed me clearly the wonderful superiority of Lyell's 
manner of treating Geology, compared with that of any other 
author whose works I had with me or ever afterwards 
read" (I. p. 62.) 



X OBITUARY 273 

ination of living reefs/ (I. p. 70.) In 1835, when 
starting from Lima for the Galapagos, he recom- 
mends his friend, W. D. Fox, to take up geology : 
" There is so much larger a field for thought 
than in the other branches of Natural History. 
I am become a zealous disciple of Mr. Ly ell's views, 
as made known in his admirable book. Geologising 
in South America, I am tempted to carry parts to 
a greater extent even than he does. Geology is a 
capital science to begin with, as it requires nothing 
but a little reading, thinking, and hammering." 
(I. p. 263.) The truth of the last statement, when 
it was written, is a curious mark of the subsequent 
progress of geology. Even so late as 1836, Darwin 
speaks of being " much more inclined for geology 
than the other branches of Natural History." 
(I. P . 275.) 

At the end of the letter to Mr. Fox, however, a 
little doubt is expressed whether zoological studies 
might not, after all, have been more profitable ; 
and an interesting passage in the " Autobiography " 
enables us to understand the origin of this 
hesitation. 

" During the voyage of the * Beagle ' I had been 
deeply impressed by discovering in the Pampean 
formation great fossil animals covered with armour 
like that on the existing armadillos ; secondly, by 
the manner in which closely-allied animals replace 
one another in proceeding southwards over the 
continent ; and, thirdly, by the South American 



274 OBITUARY X 

character of most of the productions of the 
Galapagos Archipelago, and, more especially, by 
the manner in which they differ slightly on each 
island of the group ; some of the islands appearing 
to be very ancient in a geological sense. 

" It was evident that such facts as these, as well 
as many others, could only be explained on the 
supposition that species gradually become modi- 
fied ; and the subject haunted me. But it was 
equally evident that neither the action of the 
surrounding conditions, nor the will of the organ- 
isms (especially in the case of plants) could account 
for the innumerable cases in which organisms of 
every kind are beautifully adapted to their habits 
of life ; for instance, a woodpecker or a tree-frog to 
climb trees, or a seed for dispersal by hooks or 
plumes. I had always been much struck by such 
adaptations, and until these could be explained it 
seemed to me almost useless to endeavour to prove 
by indirect evidence that species have been modi- 
fied." (I. p. 82.) 

The facts to which reference is here made were, 
without doubt, eminently fitted to attract the at- 
tention of a philosophical thinker ; but, until the 
relations of the existing with the extinct species and 
of the species of the different geographical areas 
with one another, were determined with some 
exactness, they afforded but an unsafe foundation 
for speculation. It was not possible that this 
determination should have been effected before 



X OBITUARY 275 

the return of the " Beagle " to England ; and thus 
the date which Darwin (writing in 1837) assigns to 
the dawn of the new light which was rising in his 
mind becomes intelligible. 1 

" In July opened first note-book on Transmuta- 
tion of Species. Had been greatly struck from 
about the month of previous March on character 
of South American fossils and species on Gala- 
pagos Archipelago. These facts (especially latter) 
origin of all my views." (I. p. 276.) 

From March, 1837, then, Darwin, not without 
many misgivings and fluctuations of opinion, 
inclined towards transmutation as a provisional 
hypothesis. Three months afterwards he is hard 
at work collecting facta for the purpose of test- 
ing the hypothesis ; and an almost apologetic 
passage in a letter to Lyell shows that, already, 
the attractions of biology are beginning to pre- 
dominate over those of geology. 

" I have lately been sadly tempted to be idle 2; 

1 I am indebted to Mr. F. Darwin for the knowledge of a 
letter addressed by his father to Dr. Otto Zacharias in 1877 
which contains the following paragraph, confirmatory of the 
view expressed above : " When I was on board the Beagle, I 
believed in the permanence of species, but, as far as I can 
remember, vague doubts occasionally flitted across my mind. 
On my return home in the autumn of 1836, I immediately began 
to prepare my journal for publication, and then saw how many 
facts indicated the common descent of species, so that in July, 
1837, I opened a note-book to record any facts which might bear 
on the question. But I did not become convinced that species 
were mutable until. I think, two or three years had elapsed." 

Darwin generally uses the word "idle" in a peculiar sense. 
He means by it working hard at something he likes when he 



276 OBITUARY X 

that is, as far as pure Geology is concerned by 
the delightful number of new views which have 
been coming in thickly and steadily on the 
classification and affinities and instincts of animals 
bearing on the question of species. Note-book 
after note-book has been filled with facts which 
begin to group themselves clearly under sub-laws." 
(I. p. 298.) 

The problem which was to be Darwin's chief 
subject of occupation for the rest of his life thus 
presented itself, at first, mainly under its distribu- 
tional aspect. Why do species present certain re- 
lations in space and in time ? Why are the 
animals and plants of the Galapagos Archipelago 
so like those of South America and yet different 
from them ? Why are those of the several islets 
more or less different from one another ? Why 
are the animals of the latest geological epoch in 
South America similar in fades to those which 
exist in the same region at the present day, and 
yet specifically or generically different ? 

The reply to these questions, which was almost 
universally received fifty years ago, was that ani- 
mals and plants were created such as they are ; 
and that their present distribution, at any rate so 
far as terrestrial organisms are concerned, has been 
effected by the migration of their ancestors from 

ought to be occupied with a less attractive subject. Though it 
sounds paradoxical, there is a good deal to be said in favour of 
this view of pleasant work. 



3T OBITUARY 277 

the region in which the ark stranded after the 
subsidence of the deluge. It is true that the 
geologists had drawn attention to a good many 
tolerably serious difficulties in the way of the 
diluvial part of this hypothesis, no less than to the 
supposition that the work of creation had occupied 
only a brief space of time. But even those, such 
as Lyell, who most strenuously argued in favour 
of the sufficiency of natural causes for the pro- 
duction of the phenomena of the inorganic world, 
held stoutly by the hypothesis of creation in the 
case of those of the world of life. 

For persons who were unable to feel satisfied 
with the fashionable doctrine, there remained only 
two alternatives the hypothesis of spontaneous 
generation, and that of descent with modification. 
The former was simply the creative hypothesis 
with the creator left out ; the latter had already 
been propounded by De Maillet and Erasmus 
Darwin, among others ; and, later, systematically 
expounded by Lamarck. But in the eyes of the 
naturalist of the " Beagle " (and, probably, in those 
of most sober thinkers), the advocates of transmu- 
tation had done, the doctrine they expounded more 
harm than good. 

Darwin's opinion of the scientific value of the 
" Zoonomia " has already been mentioned. His 
verdict on Lamarck is given in the following pas- 
sage of a letter to Lyell (March, 1863) : 

" Lastly, you refer repeatedly to my view as a 



278 OBITUARY X 

modification of Lamarck's doctrine of development 
and progression. If this is your deliberate opinion 
there is nothing to be said, but it does not seem 
so to me. Plato, Buffon, my grandfather, before 
Lamarck and others, propounded the obvious view 
that if species were not created separately they 
must have descended from other species, and I 
can see nothing else in common between the 
" Origin " and Lamarck. I believe this way of 
putting the case is very injurious to its acceptance, 
as it implies necessary progression, and closely 
connects Wallace's and my views with what I con- 
sider, after two deliberate readings, as a wretched 
book, and one from which (I well remember to my 
surprise) I gained nothing." 

" But," adds Darwin with a little touch of 
banter, " I know you rank it higher, which is curi- 
ous, as it did not in the least shake your belief." 
(III. p. 14 ; see also p. 16, "to me it was an ab- 
solutely useless book.") 

Unable to find any satisfactory theory of the 
process of descent with modification in the works 
of his predecessors, Darwin proceeded to lay the 
foundations of his own views independently ; and 
he naturally turned, in the first place, to the only 
certainly known examples of descent with modifi\ 
cation, namely, those which are presented by 
domestic animals and cultivated plants. He 
devoted himself to the study of these cases with 
a thoroughness to which none of his predecessors 



X OBITUARY 279 

even remotely approximated ; and he very soon 
had his reward in the discovery " that selec- 
tion was the keystone of man's success in mak- 
ing useful races of animals and plants." (I. p. 
83.) 

This was the first step in Darwin's progress, 
though its immediate result was to bring him face 
to face with a great difficulty. " But how selection 
could be applied to organisms living in a state of 
nature remained for some time a mvstery to me." 
(I. p. 83.) 

The key to this mystery was furnished by the 
accidental perusal of the famous essay of Malthus 
"On Population" in the autumn of 1838. The 
necessary result of unrestricted multiplication is 
competition for the means of existence. The suc- 
cess of one competitor involves the failure of the 
rest, that is, their extinction ; and this " selection " 
is dependent on the better adaptation of the suc- 
cessful competitor to the conditions of the com- 
petition. Variation occurs under natural, no less 
than under artificial, conditions. Unrestricted 
multiplication implies the competition of varieties 
and the selection of those which are relatively best 
adapted to the conditions. 

Neither Erasmus Darwin, nor Lamarck, had any 
inkling of the possibility of this process of " natural 
selection " ; and though it had been foreshadowed 
by Wells in 1813, and more fully stated by 
Matthew in 1831, the speculations of the latter 

47 



280 OBITUARY X 

writer remained unknown to naturalists until after 
the publication of the " Origin of Species." 

Darwin found in the doctrine of the selection of 
favourable variations by natural causes, which thus 
presented itself to his mind, not merely a probable 
theory of the origin of the diverse species of living 
forms, but that explanation of the phenomena of 
adaptation, which previous speculations had utterly 
failed to give. The process of natural selection is, 
in fact, dependent on adaptation it is all one, 
whether one says that the competitor which sur- 
vives is the " fittest " or the " best adapted." And 
it was a perfectly fair deduction that even the 
most complicated adaptations might result from 
the summation of a long series of simple favour- 
able variations. 

Darwin notes as a serious defect in the first 
sketch of his theory that he had omitted to con- 
sider one very important problem, the solution of 
which did not occur to him till some time after- 
wards. " This problem is the tendency in organic 
beings descended from the same stock to diverge 
in character as they become modified. . . . The 
solution, as I believe, is that the modified offspring 
of all dominant and increasing forms tend to 
become adapted to many and highly diversified 
places in the economy of nature." (1. p. 84.) 

It is curious that so much importance should be 
attached to this supplementary idea. It seems 
obvious that the theory of the origin of species 



X OBITUARY 281 

by natural selection necessarily involves the diverg- 
ence of the forms selected. An individual which 
varies, ipso facto diverges from the type of its 
species ; and its progeny, in which the variation 
becomes intensified by selection, must diverge still 
more, not only from the parent stock, but from 
any other race of that stock starting from, a varia- 
tion of a different character. The selective process 
could not take place unless the selected variety 
was either better adapted to the conditions than 
the original stock, or adapted to other conditions 
than the original stock. In the first case, the 
original stock would be sooner or later extirpated ; 
in the second, the type, as represented by the 
original stock and the variety, would occupy more 
diversified stations than it did before. 

The theory, essentially such as it was published 
fourteen years later, was written out in 1844, and 
Darwin was so fully convinced of the importance 
of his work, as it then stood, that he made special 
arrangements for its publication in case of his 
death. But it is a singular example of reticent 
fortitude, that, although for the next fourteen years 
the subject never left his mind, and during the 
latter half of that period he was constantly en- 
gaged in amassing facts bearing upon it from wide 
reading, a colossal correspondence, and a long series 
of experiments, only two or three friends were 
cognisant of his views. To the outside world he 
seemed to have his hands quite sufficiently full of 



282 OBITUARY X 

other matters. In 1844, he published his observa- 
tions on the volcanic islands visited during the 
voyage of the " Beagle." In 1845, a largely re- 
modelled edition of his " Journal " made its appear- 
ance, and immediately won, as it has ever since 
held, the favour of both the scientific and the un- 
scientific public. In 1845, the " Geological, Ob- 
servations in South America " cams out, and this 
book was no sooner finished than Darwin set to 
work upon the Cirripedes. He was led to under- 
take this long and heavy task, partly by his desire 
to make out the relations of a very anomalous 
form which he had discovered on the coast of 
Chili ; and partly by a sense of " presumption in 
accumulating facts and speculating on the subject 
of variation without having worked out my due 
share of species." (II. p. 31.) The eight or nine 
years of labour, which resulted in a monograph of 
first-rate importance in systematic zoology (to say 
nothing of such novel points as the discovery of 
complemental males), left Darwin no room to re- 
proach himself on this score, and few will share 
his " doubt whether the work was worth the con- 
sumption of so much time." (I. p. 82.) 

In science no man can safely speculate about 
the nature and relation of things with which he is 
unacquainted at first hand, and the acquirement 
of an intimate and practical knowledge of the 
process of species-making and of all the uncertain- 
ties which underlie the boundaries between species 



x OBITUARY 283 

and varieties, drawn by even the most careful and 
conscientious systematists l were of no less im- 
portance to the author of the " Origin of Species " 
than was the bearing of the Cirripede work upon 
" the principles of a natural classification." (I. p. 
81.) No one, as Darwin justly observes, has a 
" right to examine the question of species who 
has not minutely described many." (II. p. 39.) 

In September, 1854, the Cirripede work was 
finished, " ten thousand barnacles " had been sent 
" out of the house, all over the world," and Darwin 
had the satisfaction of being free to turn again to 
his " old notes on species." In 1855, he began to 
breed pigeons, and to make observations on the 
effects of use and disuse, experiments on seeds, 
and so on, while resuming his industrious collec- 
tion of facts, with a view " to see how far they 
favour or are opposed to the notion that wild species 
are mutable or immutable. I mean with my 
utmost power to give all arguments and facts on 
both sides. I have a number of people helping 
me every way, and giving me most valuable 



1 "After describing a set of forms as distinct species, tearing 
up my MS., and making them one species, tearing that up and 
making them separate, and then making them one again (which 
has happened to me), I have gnashed my teeth, cursed species, 
and asked what sin I had committed to be so punished." (II. 
p. 40. ) Is there any naturalist provided with a logical sense and 
a large suite of specimens, who has not undergone pangs of the 
sort described in this vigorous paragraph, which might, with 
advantage, be printed on the title-page of every systematic 
monograph as a warning to the uninitiated ? 



284 OBITUARY X 

assistance ; but I often doubt whether the subject 
will not quite overpower me." (II. p. 49.) 

Early in 1856, on Lyell's advice, Darwin began 
to write out his views on the origin of species on a 
scale three or four times as extensive as that of the 
work published in 1859. In July of the same 
year he gave a brief sketch of his theory in a 
letter to Asa Gray ; and, in the year 1857, his 
letters to his correspondents show him to be busily 
engaged on what he calls his "big book." (II. 
pp. 85, 94.) In May, 1857, Darwin writes to 
Wallace : " I am now preparing my work [on the 
question how and in what way do species and 
varieties differ from each other] for publication, 
but I find the subject so very large, that, though 
I have written many chapters, I do not suppose I 
shall go to press for two years." (II. p. 95.) In 
December, 1857, he writes, in the course of a long 
letter to the same correspondent, " I am extremely 
glad to hear that you are attending to distribution 
in accordance with theoretical ideas. I am a firm 
believer that without speculation there is no good 
and original observation." (II." p. 108.) 1 In 
June, 1858, he received from Mr. Wallace, then 
in the Malay Archipelago, an "Essay on the 
tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from 



1 The last remark contains a pregnant truth, but it must be 
confessed it hardly squares with the declaration in the Auto- 
biography, (I. p. 83), that he worked on "true Baconian, 
principles. " 



X OBITUARY 285 

the original type," of which Darwin says, " If 
Wallace had my MS. sketch written out in 1842 
he could not have made a better short abstract ! 
Even his terms stand now as heads of my chapters. 
Please return me the MS., which he does not say 
he wishes me to publish, but I shall, of course, at 
once write and offer to send it to any journal. 
So all my originality, whatever it may amount to, 
will be smashed, though my book, if ever it will 
have any value, will not be deteriorated ; as all 
the labour consists in the application of the 
theory." (II. p. 116.) 

Thus, Darwin's first impulse was to publish 
Wallace's essay without note or comment of his 
own. But, on consultation with Lyell and Hooker, 
the latter of whom had read the sketch of 1844, 
they suggested, as an undoubtedly more equitable 
course, that extracts from the MS. of 1844 and 
from the letter to Dr. Asa Gray should be com- 
municated to the Linnean Society along with 
Wallace's essay. The joint communication was 
read on July 1, 1858, and published under the 
title "On the Tendency of Species to form 
Varieties ; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties 
and Species by Natural Means of Selection." 
This was followed, on Darwin's part, by the com- 
position of a summary account of the conclusions 
to which his twenty years' work on the species 
question had led him. It occupied him for 
thirteen months, and appeared in November, 



286 OBITUARY X 

1859, under the title " On the Origin of Species 
by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation 
of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life." 

It is doubtful if any single book, except the 
" Principia," ever worked so great and so rapid a 
revolution in science, or made so deep an 
impression on the general mind. It aroused a 
tempest of opposition and met with equally 
vehement support, and it must be added that 
no book has been more widely and persistently 
misunderstood by both friends and foes. In 1861, 
Darwin remarks to a correspondent, " You under- 
stand my book perfectly, and that I find a very 
rare event with my critics." (I. p. 313.) The 
immense popularity which the " Origin " at once 
acquired was no doubt largely due to its many 
points of contact with philosophical and theo- 
logical questions in which every intelligent man 
feels a profound interest ; but a good deal must 
be assigned to a somewhat delusive simplicity of 
style, which tends to disguise the complexity and 
difficulty of the subject, and much to the wealth 
of information on all sorts of curious problems of 
natural history, which is made accessible to the 
most unlearned reader. But long occupation with 
the work has led the present writer to believe 
that the " Origin of Species " is one of the hardest 
of books to master; 1 and he is justified in this 

1 He is comforted to find that probably the best qualified 
judge among all the readers of the Origin in 1859 was of the 



X OBITUARY 287 

conviction by observing that although the 
" Origin " has been close on thirty- years before the 
world, the strangest misconceptions of the 
essential nature of the theory therein advocated 
are still put forth by serious writers. 

Although, then, the present occasion is not 
suitable for any detailed criticism of the theory, or 
of the objections which have been brought against 
it, it may not be out of place to endeavour to 
separate the substance of the theory from its 
accidents ; and to show that a variety not only of 
hostile comments, but of friendly would-be im- 
provements lose their raison d'etre to the careful 
student. Observation proves the existence among 
all living beings of phenomena of three kinds, de- 
noted by the terms heredity, variation, and multi- 
plication. Progeny tend to resemble their parents ; 
nevertheless all their organs and functions are sus- 
ceptible of departing more or less from the average 
parental character ; and their number is in excess 
of that of their parents. Severe competition for 
the means of living, or the struggle for existence, 
is a necessary consequence of unlimited multipli- 
cation ; while selection, or the preservation of 
favourable variations and the extinction of others, 
is a necessary consequence of severe competition. 
" Favourable variations " are those which are 
better adapted to surrounding conditions. It 

same opinion. Sir J. Hooker writes, i* It is the very hardest 
book to read, to full profit, that I ever tried." (II. p. 242.) 



288 OBITUARY X 

follows, therefore, that every variety which is 
selected into a species is so favoured and pre- 
served in consequence of being, in some one or 
more respects, better adapted to its surroundings 
than its rivals. In other words, every species 
which exists, exists in virtue of adaptation, and 
whatever accounts for that adaptation accounts for 
the existence of the species. 

To say that Darwin has put forward a theory of 
the adaptation of species, but not of their origin, 
is therefore to misunderstand the first principles 
of the theory. For, as has been pointed out, it is 
a necessary consequence of the theory of selection 
that every species must have some one or more 
structural or functional peculiarities, in virtue of 
the advantage conferred by which, it has fought 
through the crowd of its competitors and achieved 
a certain duration. In this sense, it is true 
that every species has been " originated " by 
selection. 

There is another sense, however, in which it is 
equally true that selection originates nothing. 
" Unless profitable variations .... occur natural 
selection can do nothing " (" Origin," Ed. I. p. 82). 
"Nothing can be effected unless favourable 
variations occur" (ibid., p. 108). " What applies 
to one animal will apply throughout time to all 
animals that is, if they vary for otherwise 
natural selection can do nothing. So it will be 
with plants " (ibid., p. 113). Strictly speaking, 



X OBITUARY 289 

therefore, the origin of species in general lies in 
variation ; while the origin of any particular 
species lies, firstly, in the occurrence, and secondly, 
in the selection and preservation of a particular 
variation. Clearness on this head will relieve one 
from the necessity of attending to the fallacious 
assertion that natural selection is a deus ex machind, 
or occult agency. 

Those, again, who confuse the operation of the 
natural causes which bring about variation and 
selection with what they are pleased to call 
" chance " can hardly have read the opening 
paragraph of the fifth chapter of the " Origin " 
(Ed. I, p. 131) : " I have sometimes spoken as if 
the variations .... had been due to chance. 
This is of course a wholly incorrect expression, 
but it seems to acknowledge plainly our igno- 
rance of the cause of each particular variation." 

Another point of great importance to the right 
comprehension of the theory, is, that while every 
species must needs have some adaptive advanta- 
geous characters to which it owes its preservation 
by selection, it may possess any number of others 
which are neither advantageous nor disadvanta- 
geous, but indifferent, or even slightly disadvan - 
tageous. (Ibid,, p. 81.) For variations take place, 
not merely in one organ or function at a time, but 
in many ; and thus an advantageous variation, 
which gives rise to the selection of a new race or 
species, may be accompanied by others which are 



290 OBITUARY X 

indifferent, but which are just as strongly heredi- 
tary as the advantageous variations. The advan- 
tageous structure is but one product of a modified 
general constitution which may manifest itself by 
several other products ; and the selective process 
carries tne general constitution along with the 
advantageous special peculiarity. A given species 
of plant may owe its existence to the selective 
adaptation of its flowers to insect fertilisers ; but the 
character of its leaves may be the result of varia- 
tions of an indifferent character. It is the origin 
of variations of this kind to which Darwin refers in 
his frequent reference to what he calls " laws of 
correlation of growth " or " correlated variation." 

These considerations lead us further to see the 
inappropriateness of the objections raised to 
Darwin's theory on the ground that natural 
selection does not account for the first commence- 
ments of useful organs. But it does not pretend 
to do so. The source of such commencements is 
necessarily to be sought in different variations, 
which remain unaffected by selection until they 
have taken such a form as to become utilisable in 
the struggle for existence. 

It is not essential to Darwin's theory that 
anything more should be assumed than the facts 
of heredity, variation, and unlimited multiplication ; 
and the validity of the deductive reasoning as to 
the effect of the last (that is, of the struggle for 
existence which it involves) upon the varieties 



X OBITUARY 291 

resulting from the operation of the former. Nor 
is it essential that one should take up any 
particular position in regard to the mode of 
variation, whether, for example, it takes place per 
saltum or gradually ; whether it is definite in 
character or indefinite. Still less are those who 
accept the theory bound to any particular views as 
to the causes of heredity or of variation. 

That Darwin held strong opinions on some or all 
of these points may be quite true ; but, so far as 
the theory is concerned, they must be regarded as 
obiter dicta. With respect to the causes of vari- 
ation, Darwin's opinions are, from first to last, 
put forward altogether tentatively. In the first 
edition of the " Origin," he attributes the strongest 
influence to changes in the conditions of life of 
parental organisms, which he appears to think act 
on the germ through the intermediation of the 
sexual organs. He points out, over and over again, 
that habit, use, disuse, and the direct influence of 
conditions have some effect, but he does not think 
it great, and he- draws attention to the difficulty 
of distinguishing between effects of these agencies 
and those of selection. There is, however, one 
class of variations which he withdraws from the 
direct influence of selection, namely, the variations 
in the fertility of the sexual union of more or less 
closely allied forms. He regards less fertility, or 
more or less complete sterility, as "incidental to 
other acquired differences." (Ibid., p. 245.) 



292 OBITUARY X 

Considering the difficulties which surround the 
question of the causes of variation, it is not to be 
wondered at, that Darwin should have inclined, 
sometimes, rather more to one and, sometimes, 
rather more to another of the possible alternatives. 
There is little difference between the last edition 
of the " Origin " (1872) and the first on this head. 
In 1876, however, he writes to Moritz Wagner, 
" In my opinion, the greatest error which I have 
committed has been not allowing sufficient weight 
to the direct action of the environments, i.e., food, 
climate, &c., independently of natural selection. 
. . . . When I wrote the ' Origin,' and for some 
years afterwards, I could find little good evidence 
of the direct action of the environment ; now there 
is a large body of evidence, and your case of the 
Saturnia is one of the most remarkable of which 
I have heard." (Ill, p. 159.) But there is really 
nothing to prevent the most tenacious adherent to 
the theory of natural selection from taking any 
view he pleases as to the importance of the direct 
influence of conditions and the hereditary trans- 
missibility of the modifications which they produce. 
In fact, there is a good deal to be said for the view 
that the so-called direct influence of conditions is 
itself a case of selection. Whether the hypothesis 
of Pangenesis be accepted or rejected, it can hardly 
be doubted that the struggle for existence goes on 
not merely between distinct organisms, but between 
the physiological units of which each organism is 



X OBITUARY 293 

composed, and that changes in external conditions 
favour some and hinder others. 

After a short stay in Cambridge, Darwin resided 
in London for the first five years which followed 
his return to England ; and for three years, he held 
the post of Secretary to the Geological Society, 
though he shared to the full his friend Ly ell's 
objection to entanglement in such engagements. 
In fact, he used to say in later life, more than half 
in earnest, that he gave up hoping for work from 
men who accepted official duties and, especially, 
Government appointments. Happily for him, he 
was exempted from the necessity of making any 
sacrifice of this kind, but an even heavier burden 
was laid upon him. During the earlier half of his 
voyage Darwin retained the vigorous health of his 
boyhood, and indeed proved himself to be excep- 
tionally capable of enduring fatigue and privation. 
An anomalous but severe disorder, which laid him 
up for several weeks at Valparaiso in 1834, how- 
ever, seems to have left its mark on his constitution ; 
and, in the later years of his London life, attacks 
of illness, usually accompanied by severe vomiting 
and great prostration of strength, became frequent. 
As he grew older, a considerable part of every day, 
even at his best times, was spent in misery ; while, 
not unfrequently, months of suffering rendered work 
of any kind impossible. Even Darwin's remarkable 
tenacity of purpose and methodical utilisation of 



294) OBITUARY X 

every particle of available energy could not have 
enabled him to achieve a fraction of the vast 
amount of labour he got through, in the course of 
the following forty years, had not the wisest and the 
most loving care unceasingly surrounded him from 
the time of his marriage in 1839. As early as 
1842, the failure of health was so marked 
that removal from London became imperatively 
necessary ; and Darwin purchased a house and 
grounds at Down, a solitary hamlet in Kent, which 
was his home for th'e rest of his life. Under the 
strictly regulated conditions of a valetudinarian 
existence, the intellectual activity of the invalid 
might have put to shame most healthy men ; and, 
so long as he could hold his head up, there was no 
limit to the genial kindness of thought and action 
for all about him. Those friends who were 
privileged to share the intimate life of the house- 
hold at Down have an abiding memory of the 
cheerful restfulness which pervaded and character- 
ised it. 

After mentioning his settlement at Down, 
Darwin writes in his Autobiography : 

" My chief enjoyment and sole employment 
throughout life has been scientific work ; and the 
excitement from such work makes me, for the time, 
forget, or drives quite away, my daily discomfort. 
I have, therefore, nothing to record during the rest 
of my life, except the publication of my several 
books." (I, p. 79.) 



X OBITUARY 295 

Of such works published subsequently to 1859, 
several are monographic discussions of topics 
briefly dealt with in the " Origin," which, it must 
always be recollected, was considered by the 
author to be merely an abstract of an opus ma/jus. 

The earliest of the books which may be placed 
in this category, " On the Various Contrivances 
by which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects," was 
published in 1862, and whether we regard its 
theoretical significance, the excellence of the ob- 
servations and the ingenuity of the reasonings 
which it records, or the prodigious mass of sub- 
sequent investigation of which it has been the 
parent, it has no superior in point of importance. 
The conviction that no theory of the origin of 
species could be satisfactory which failed to offer 
an explanation of the way in which mechanisms 
involving adaptations of structure and function to 
the performance of certain operations are brought 
about, was, from the first, dominant in Darwin's 
mind. As has been seen, he rejected Lamarck's 
views because of their obvious incapacity to furnish 
such an explanation in the case of the great 
majority of animal mechanisms, and in that 
of all those presented by the vegetable world. 

So far back as 1793, the wonderful work of 
Sprengel had established, beyond any reasonable 
doubt, the fact that, in a large number of cases, a 
flower is a piece of mechanism the object of which 
is to convert insect visitors into agents of fertilisa- 
48 



296 OBITUARY X 

tion. Sprengel's observations had been most 
undeservedly neglected and well-nigh forgotten ; 
but Robert Brown having directed Darwin's 
attention to them in 1841, he was attracted 
towards the subject, and verified many of Sprengel's 
statements. (Ill, p. 258.) It may be doubted 
whether there was a living botanical specialist, 
except perhaps Brown, who had done as much. 
If, however, adaptations of this kind were to be 
explained by natural selection, it was necessary to 
show that the plants which were provided with 
mechanisms for ensuring the aid of insects as 
fertilisers, were by so much the better fitted 
to compete with their rivals. This Sprengel 
had not done. Darwin had been attending to 
cross fertilisation in plants so far back as 1839, 
from having arrived, in the course of his specu- 
lations on the origin of species, at the convic- 
tion " that crossing played an important part 
in keeping specific forms constant" (I, p. 90). 
The further development of his views on the 
importance of cross fertilisation appears to have 
taken place between this time and 1857, when he 
published his first papers on the fertilisation of 
flowers in the "Gardener's Chronicle." If the 
conclusion at which he ultimately arrived, that 
cross fertilisation is favourable to the fertility of 
the parent and to the vigour of the offspring, is 
correct, then it follows that all those mechanisms 
which hinder self-fertilisation and favour crossing 



X OBITUARY 297 

must be advantageous in the struggle for exist- 
ence ; and, the more perfect the action of the 
mechanism, the greater the advantage. Thus the 
way lay open for the operation of natural selection 
in gradually perfecting the flower as a fertilisation - 
trap. Analogous reasoning applies to the fertil- 
ising insect. The better its structure is adapted 
to that of the trap, the more will it be able to 
profit by the bait, whether of honey or of pollen, 
to the exclusion of its competitors. Thus, by a 
sort of action and reaction, a two-fold series of 
adaptive modifications will be brought about. 

In 1865, the important bearing of this subject 
on his theory led Darwin to commence a great 
series of laborious and difficult experiments on the 
fertilisation of plants, which occupied him for 
eleven years, and furnished him with the unex- 
pectedly strong evidence in favour of the influence 
of crossing which he published in 1876, under the 
title of" The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation 
in the Vegetable Kingdom." Incidentally, as it 
were* to this heavy piece of work, he made the 
remarkable series of observations on the different 
arrangements by which crossing is favoured and, 
in many cases, necessitated, which appeared in the 
work on "The Different Forms of Flowers in 
Plants of the same Species " in 1877. 

In the course of the twenty years during which 
Darwin was thus occupied in opening up new 
regions of investigation to the botanist and 



298 OBITUARY X 

showing the profound physiological significance of 
the apparently meaningless diversities of floral 
structure, his attention was keenly alive to any 
other interesting phenomena of plant life which 
came in his way. In his correspondence, he not 
unfrequently laughs at himself for his ignorance 
of systematic botany ; and his acquaintance with 
vegetable anatomy and physiology was of the 
slenderest. Nevertheless, if any of the less 
common features of plant life came under his 
notice, that imperious necessity of seeking for 
causes which nature had laid upon him, impelled, 
and indeed compelled, him to inquire the how 
and the why of the fact, and its bearing on his 
general views. And as, happily, the atavic ten- 
dency to frame hypotheses was accompanied 
by an equally strong need to test them by well- 
devised experiments, and to acquire all possible 
information before publishing his results, the 
effect was that he touched no topic without 
elucidating it. 

Thus the investigation of the operations of 
insectivorous plants, embodied in the work on that 
topic published in 1875, was started fifteen years 
before, by a passing observation made during one 
of Darwin's rare holidays. 

" In the summer of 1860, I was idling and 
resting near Hartfield, where two species of 
Drosera abound ; and I noticed that numerous 
insects had been entrapped by the leaves. I 



X OBITUARY 299 

carried home some plants, and on giving them 
some insects saw the movements of the tentacles, 
and this made me think it possible that the insects 
were caught for some special purpose. Fortu- 
nately, a crucial test occurred to me, that of placing 
a large number of leaves in various nitrogenous 
and non-nitrogenous fluids of equal density ; and 
as soon as I found that the former alone excited 
energetic movements, it was obvious that here was 
a fine new field for investigation." (I, p. 95.) 

The researches thus initiated led to the proof 
that plants are capable of secreting a digestive 
fluid like that of animals, and of profiting by the 
result of digestion ; whereby the peculiar appara- 
tuses of the insectivorous plants were brought 
within the scope of natural selection. Moreover, 
these inquiries widely enlarged our knowledge of 
the manner in which stimuli are transmitted in 
plants, and opened up a prospect of drawing closer 
the analogies between the motor processes of plants 
and those of animals. 

So with respect to the books on "Climbing 
Plants" (1875), and on the " Power of Movement 
in Plants " (1880), Darwin says ; 

" I was led to take up this subject by reading a 
short paper by Asa Gray, published in 1858. He 
sent me some seeds, and on raising some plants I 
was so much fascinated and perplexed by the 
revolving movements of the tendrils and stems, 
which movements are really very simple, though 



300 OBITUARY X 

appearing at first sight very complex, that I pro- 
cured various other kinds of climbing plants 
and studied the whole subject. . . . Some of the 
adaptations displayed by climbing plants are as 
beautiful as those of orchids for ensuring cross - 
fertilisation." (I, p. 93.) 

In the midst of all this amount of work, 
remarkable alike for its variety and its importance, 
among plants, the animal kingdom was by no 
means neglected. A large moiety of "The 
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domesti- 
cation" (1868), which contains the pieces justijica- 
tives of the first chapter of the " Origin," is devoted 
to domestic animals, and the hypothesis of 
" pangenesis " propounded in the second volume 
applies to the whole living world. In the " Ori- 
gin" Darwin throws out some suggestions as to 
the causes of variation, but he takes heredity, as it 
is manifested by individual organisms, for granted, 
as an ultimate fact ; pangenesis is an attempt to 
account for the phenomena of heredity in the 
organism, on the assumption that the physiological 
units of which the organism is composed give off 
gemmules, which, in virtue of heredity, tend to 
reproduce the unit from which they are derived. 

That Darwin had the application of his theory 
to the origin of the human species clearly in his 
mind in 1859, is obvious from a passage in the 
first edition of " The Origin of Species." (Ed. I, 
p. 488.) " In the distant future I see open fields 



X OBITUARY 301 

for far more important researches. Psychology 
will be based on a new foundation, that of the 
necessary acquirement of each mental power and 
capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on 
the origin of man and his history." It is one of 
the curiosities of scientific literature, that, in the 
face of this plain declaration, its author should have 
been charged with concealing his opinions on the 
subject of the origin of man. But he reserved the 
full statement of his views until 1871, when the 
" Descent of Man " was published. The " Expres- 
sion of the Emotions " (originally intended to form 
only a chapter in the " Descent of Man ") grew into 
a separate volume, which appeared in 1872. 
Although always taking a keen interest in geology, 
Darwin naturally found no time disposable for 
geological work, even had his health permitted it, 
after he became seriously engaged with the great 
problem of species. But the last of his labours is, 
in some sense, a return to his earliest, inasmuch as 
it is an expansion of a short paper read before the 
Geological Society more than forty years before, 
and, as he says, " revived old geological thoughts " 
(I, p. 98). In fact, " The Formation of Vegetable 
Mould through the Action of Worms," affords as 
striking an example of the great results produced 
by the long-continued operation of small causes as 
even the author of the " Principles of Geology " 
could have desired. 

In the early months of 1882 Darwin's health 



302 OBITUARY X 

underwent a change for the worse ; attacks of 
giddiness and fainting supervened, and on the 19th 
of April he died. On the 24th, his remains were 
interred in Westminster Abbey, in accordance with 
the general feeling that such a man as he should 
not go to the grave without some public recogni- 
tion of the greatness of his work. 

Mr. Darwin became a Fellow of the Royal 
Society in 1839 ; one of the Royal Medals was 
awarded to him in 1853, and he received the 
Copley Medal in 1864. The " Life and Letters," 
edited with admirable skill and judgment by Mr. 
Francis Darwin, gives a full and singularly vivid 
presentment of his father's personal character, of 
his mode of work, and of the events of his life. In 
the present brief obituary notice, the writer has 
attempted nothing more than to select and put 
together those facts which enable us to trace the 
intellectual evolution of one of the greatest of the 
many great men of science whose names adorn the 
long roll of the Fellows of the Royal Society. 



XI 



ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OP THE CAUSES 
OF THE PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC 
NATURE 

[Six Lectures to Working Men. 1863.] 
I. 

THE PRESENT CONDITION OF ORGANIC NATURE. 

WHEN it was my duty to consider what subject I 
would select for the six lectures which I shall now 
have the pleasure of delivering to you, it occurred 
to me that I could not do better than endeavour 
to put before you in a true light, or in what I 
might perhaps with more modesty call, that which 
I conceive myself to be the true light, the position 
of a book which has been more praised and more 
abused, perhaps, than any book which has appeared 
for some years ; I mean Mr. Darwin's work on the 
" Origin of Species." That work, I doubt not, 
many of you have read ; for I know the inquiring 
spirit which is rife among you. At any rate, all 
of you will have heard of it, some by one kind of 
report and some by another kind of report ; the 



304 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

attention of all and the curiosity of all have been 
probably more or less excited on the subject of 
that work. All I can do, and all I shall attempt 
to do, is to put before you that kind of judgment 
which has been formed by a man, who, of course, 
is liable to judge erroneously ; but, at any rate, of 
one whose business and profession it is to form 
judgments upon questions of this nature. 

And here, as it will always happen when dealing 
with an extensive subject, the greater part of my 
course if, indeed, so small a number of lectures 
can be properly called a course must be devoted 
to preliminary matters, or rather to a statement of 
those facts and of those principles which the work 
itself dwells upon, and brings more or less directly 
before us. I have no right to suppose that all or 
any of you are naturalists ; and, even if you were, 
the misconceptions and misunderstandings prev- 
alent even among naturalists, on these matters, 
would make it desirable that I should take the 
course I now propose to take, that I should 
start from the beginning, that I should endeavour 
to point out what is the existing state of the 
organic world that I should point out its past 
condition, that I should state what is the precise 
nature of the undertaking which Mr. Darwin has 
taken in hand ; that I should endeavour to show 
you what are the only methods by which that 
undertaking can be brought to an issue, and to 
point out to you how far the author of the work 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 305 

in question has satisfied those conditions, how far 
he has not satisfied them, how far they are satis- 
fiable by man, and how far they are not satisfiable 
by man. 

To-night, in taking up the first part of the 
question, I shall endeavour to put before you a 
sort of broad notion of our knowledge of the con- 
dition of the living world. There are many ways 
of doing this. I might deal with it pictorially and 
graphically. Following the example of Humboldt 
in his " Aspects of Nature," I might endeavour to 
point out the infinite variety of organic life in 
every mode of its existence, with reference to the 
variations of climate and the like ; and such an 
attempt would be fraught with interest to us all ; 
but considering the subject before us, such a course 
would not be that best calculated to assist us. In 
an argument of this kind we must go further and 
dig deeper into the matter ; we must endeavour to 
look into the foundations of living Nature, if I 
may so say, and discover the principles involved in 
some of her most secret operations. I propose, 
therefore, in the first place, to take some ordinary 
animal with which you are all familiar, and, by 
easily comprehensible and obvious examples drawn 
from it, to show what are the kind of problems 
which living beings in general lay before us; and 
I shall then show you that the same problems are 
laid open to us by all kinds of living beings. 
But hrst, let me say in what sense I have used the 



306 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

words " organic nature." In speaking of the 
causes which lead to oar present knowledge of 
organic nature, I have used it almost as an 
equivalent of the word " living," and for this 
reason, that in almost all living beings you can 
distinguish several distinct portions set apart to 
do particular things and work in a particular way. 
These are termed " organs," and the whole 
together is called "organic." And as it is 
universally characteristic of them, the term 
" organic " has been very conveniently employed 
to denote the whole of living nature, the whole 
of the plant world, and the whole of the animal 
world. 

Few animals can be more familiar to you than 
that whose skeleton is shown on our diagram. 
You need not bother yourselves with this " Equus 
caballus " written under it ; that is only the Latin 
name of it, and does not make it any better. It 
simply means the common horse. Suppose we 
wish to understand all about the horse. Our 
first object must be to study the structure of the 
animal. The whole of his body is inclosed within 
a hide, a skin covered with hair ; and if that hide 
or skin be taken off, we find a great mass of flesh, 
or what is technically called muscle, being the 
substance which by its power of contraction enables 
the animal to move. These muscles move the hard 
parts one upon the other, and so give that strength 
and power of motion which renders the horse so 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 307 

useful to us in the performance of those services 
in which we employ him. 

And then, on separating and removing the whole 
of this skin and flesh, you have a great series 
of bones, hard structures, bound together with 
ligaments, and forming the skeleton which is 
represented here. 

In that skeleton there are a number of parts to 
be recognised. The long series of bones, beginning 
from the skull and ending in the tail, is called the 
spine, and those in front are the ribs ; and then 
there are two pairs of limbs, one before and one 
behind ; and there are what we all know as the 
fore-legs and the hind -legs. If we pursue our 
researches into the interior of this animal, we find 
within the framework of the skeleton a great 
cavity, or rather, I should say, two great cavities, 
one cavity beginning in the skull and running 
through the neck-bones, along the spine, and 
ending in the tail, containing the brain and the 
spinal marrow, which are extremely important 
organs. The second great cavity, commencing 
with the mouth, contains the gullet, the stomach, 
the long intestine, and all the rest of those internal 
apparatus which are essential for digestion ; and 
then in the same great cavity, there are lodged the 
heart and all the great vessels going from it ; and, 
besides that the organs of respiration the lungs : 
and then the kidneys, and the organs of repro- 
duction, and so on. Let us now endeavour to 



308 



THE CAUSES OF THE 



reduce this notion of a horse that we now have, to 
some such kind of simple expressions as can be at 
once, and without difficulty, retained in the mind, 
apart from all minor details. If I make a trans- 
verse section, that is, if I were to saw a dead 
horse across, I should find that, if I left out the 
details, and supposing I took my section through 
the anterior region, and through the fore-limbs, I 
should have here this kind of section of the body 
(Fig. 1). Here would be the upper part of the 
animal that great 
mass of bones that 
we spoke of as the 
spine (a, Fig. 1). 
Here I should have 
the alimentary 

canal (b, Fig. 1). 
Here I should have 
the heart (c, Fig. 
1) ; and then you 
see, there would be 
a kind of double 
tube, the whole 
being inclosed with- 
in the hide ; the spinal marrow would be placed 
in the upper tube (a, Fig. 1), and in the lower 
tube (d d, Fig. 1), there would be the alimentary 
canal (b), and the heart (c) ; and here I shall 
have the legs proceeding from each side. For 
simplicity's sake. I represent them merely as 




Fig.i. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 309 

stumps (e e, Fig. 1). Now that is a horse as 
mathematicians would say reduced to its most 
simple expression. Carry that in your minds, if 
you please, as a simplified idea of the structure of 
the horse. The considerations which I have now 
put before you belong to what we technically call 
the " Anatomy " of the horse. Now, suppose we 
go to work upon these several parts, flesh and 
hair, and skin and bone, and lay open these various 
organs with our scalpels, and examine them by 
means of our magnify ing-glasses, and see what we 
can make of them. We shall find that the flesh 
is made up of bundles of strong fibres. The brain 
and nerves, too, we shall find, are made up of 
fibres, and these queer-looking things that are 
called ganglionic corpuscles. If we take a slice of 
the bone and examine it, we shall find that it is 
very like this diagram of a section of the bone of 
on ostrich, though differing, of course, in some 
details ; and if we take any part whatsoever of the 
tissue, and examine it, we shall find it all has a 
minute structure, visible only under the microscope. 
All these parts constitute microscopic anatomy or 
"Histology." These parts are constantly being 
changed ; every part is constantly growing, decay- 
ing, and being replaced during the life of the animal. 
The tissue is constantly replaced by new material ; 
and if you go back to the young state of the tissue 
in the case of muscle, or in the case of skin, or any 
of the organs I have mentioned, you will find that 



310 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

they all come under the same condition. Every 
one of these microscopic filaments and fibres (I 
now speak merely of the general character of the 
whole process) every one of these parts could 
be traced down to some modification of a tissue 
which can be readily divided into little particles of 
fleshy matter, of that substance which is composed 
of the chemical elements, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, 
and nitrogen, having such a shape as this (Fig. 2). 
These particles, into which all primitive tissues 
break up, are called cells. If I were to make a 
section of a piece of the skin of my 
hand, I should find that it was 
made up of these cells. If I 
examine the fibres which form the 
various organs of all living animals, 
I should find that all of them, at 
one time or other, had been formed 
out of a substance consisting of similar elements ; 
so that you see, just as we reduced the whole body 
in the gross to that sort of simple expression given 
in Fig. 1, so we may reduce the whole of the 
microscopic structural elements to a form of even 
greater simplicity ; just as the plan of the whole 
body may be so represented in a sense (Fig. 1), so 
the primary structure of every tissue may be 
represented by a mass of cells (Fig. 2). 

Having thus, in this sort of general way, 
sketched to you what I may call, perhaps, the 
architecture of the body of the horse (what we 




XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 311 

term technically its Morphology), I must now turn 
to another aspect. A horse is not a mere dead 
structure : it is an active, living, working machine. 
Hitherto we have, as it were, been looking at a 
steam-engine with the fires out, and nothing in the 
boiler; but the body of the living animal is a 
beautifully-formed active machine, and every part 
has its different work to do in the working of that 
machine, which is what we call its life. The 
horse, if you see him after his day's work is done, 
is cropping the grass in the fields, as it may be, or 
munching the oats in his stable. What is he 
doing ? His jaws are working as a mill and a 
very complex mill too grinding the corn, or 
crushing the grass to a pulp. As soon as that 
operation has taken place, the food is passed down 
to the stomach, and there it is mixed with the 
chemical fluid called the gastric juice, a substance 
which has the peculiar property of making soluble 
and dissolving out the nutritious matter in the 
grass, and leaving behind those parts which are 
not nutritious ; so that you have, first, the mill, 
then a sort of chemical digester ; and then the 
food, thus partially dissolved, is carried back 
by the muscular contractions of the intestines into 
the hinder parts of the body, while the soluble 
portions are taken up into the blood. The blood 
is contained in a vast system of pipes, spreading 
through the whole body, connected with a force- 
pump, the heart, which, by its position and by 

49 



312 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

the contractions of its valves, keeps the blood 
constantly circulating in one direction, never 
allowing it to rest ; and then, by means of this 
circulation of the blood, laden as it is with the 
products of digestion, the skin, the flesh,. the hair, 
and every other part of the body, draws from it 
that which it wants, and every one of these organs 
derives those materials which are necessary to 
enable it to do its work. 

The action of each of these organs, the per- 
formance of each of these various duties, involve 
in their operation a continual absorption of the 
matters necessary for their support, from the 
blood, and a constant formation of waste products, 
which are returned to the blood, and conveyed by 
it to the lungs and the kidneys, which are organs 
that have allotted to them the office of extracting, 
separating, and getting rid of these waste products ; 
and thus the general nourishment, labour, and 
repair of the whole machine are kept up with order 
and regularity. But not only is it a machine 
which feeds and appropriates to its own support 
the nourishment necessary to its existence it is 
an engine for locomotive purposes. The horse 
desires to go from one place to another ; and to 
enable it to do this, it has those strong contractile 
bundles of muscles attached to the bones of its 
limbs, which are put in motion by means of a sort 
of telegraphic apparatus formed by the brain and 
the great spinal cord running through the spine or 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 313 

backbone ; and to this spinal cord are attached a 
number of fibres termed nerves, which proceed to 
all parts of the structure. By means of these the 
eyes, nose, tongue, and skin all the organs of per- 
ception transmit impressions or sensations to the 
brain, which acts as a sort of great central tele- 
graph-office, receiving impressions and sending 
messages to all parts of the body, and putting in 
motion the muscles necessary to accomplish any 
movement that may be desired. So that you have 
here an extremely complex and beautifully-pro- 
portioned machine, with all its parts working 
harmoniously together towards one common 
object the preservation of the life of the 
animal. 

Now, note this : the horse makes up its waste 
by feeding, and its food is grass or oats, or perhaps 
other vegetable products ; therefore, in the long 
run, the source of all this complex machinery lies in 
the vegetable kingdom. But where does the grass, 
or the oat, or any other plant, obtain this nourish- 
ing food-producing material ? At first it is a little 
seed, which soon begins to draw into itself from 
the earth and the surrounding air matters which 
in themselves contain no vital properties what- 
ever; it absorbs into its own substance water, 
an inorganic body; it draws into its substance 
carbonic acid, an inorganic matter ; and ammonia, 
another inorganic matter, found in the air; and 
then, by some wonderful chemical process, the 



314 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

details of which chemists do not yet understand, 
though they are near foreshadowing them, it 
combines them into one substance, which is known 
to us as " Protein," a complex compound of carbon, 
hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which alone pos- 
sesses the property of manifesting vitality and of 
permanently supporting animal life. So that, you 
see, the waste products of the animal economy, 
the effete materials which are continually being 
thrown off by all living beings, in the form of 
organic matters, are constantly replaced by sup- 
plies of the necessary repairing and rebuilding 
materials drawn from the plants, which in their 
turn manufacture them, so to speak, by a 
mysterious combination of those same inorganic 
materials. 

Let us trace out the history of the horse in 
another direction. After a certain time, as the 
result of sickness or disease, the effect of accident, 
or the consequence of old age, sooner or later, the 
animal dies. The multitudinous operations of 
this beautiful mechanism flag in their perform- 
ance, the horse loses its vigour, and after passing 
through the curious series of changes comprised 
in its formation and preservation, it finally decays, 
and ends its life by going back into that inorganic 
world from which all but an inappreciable fraction 
of its substance was derived. Its bones become 
mere carbonate and phosphate of lime ; the matter 
of its flesh, and of its other parts, becomes, in the 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 315 

long run, converted into carbonic acid, into water, 
and into ammonia. You will now, perhaps, under- 
stand the curious relation of the animal with the 
plant, of the organic with the inorganic world, 
which is shown in this diagram. 



CARBONIC ACID. 



Inorganic World 

WATER. 




Vegetable World 



Animal World 



The plant gathers these inorganic materials 
together and makes them up into its own 
substance. The animal eats the plant and appro- 
priates the nutritious portions to its own susten- 
ance, rejects and gets rid of the useless matters ; 
and, finally, the animal itself dies, and its whole 
body is decomposed and returned into the inorganic 
world. There is thus a constant circulation from 
one to the other, a continual formation of organic 
life from inorganic matters, and as constant 
a return of the matter of living bodies to the 
inorganic world ; so that the materials of which 



316 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

our bodies are composed are largely, in all 
probability, the substances which constituted the 
matter of long extinct creations, but which have 
in the interval constituted a part of the inorganic 
world. 

Thus we come to the conclusion, strange at first 
sight, that the MATTER constituting the living 
world is identical with that which forms the 
inorganic world. And not less true is it that, 
remarkable as are the powers or, in other words, 
as are the FORCES which are exerted by living 
beings, yet all these forces are either identical 
with those which exist in the inorganic world, or 
they are convertible into them ; I mean in just the 
same sense as the researches of physical philo- 
sophers have shown that heat is convertible into 
electricity, that electricity is convertible into 
magnetism, magnetism into mechanical force or 
chemical force, and any one of them with the 
other, each being measurable in terms of the other, 
even so, I say, that great law is applicable to 
the living world. Consider why is the skeleton of 
this horse capable of supporting the masses of 
flesh and the various organs forming the living 
body, unless it is because of the action of the same 
forces of cohesion which combines together the 
particles of matter composing this piece of chalk ? 
What is there in the muscular contractile power 
of the animal but the force which is expressible, 
and which is in a certain sense convertible, into 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 317 

the force of gravity which it overcomes ? Or, if 
you go to more hidden processes, in what does the 
process of digestion differ from those processes 
which are carried on in the laboratory of the 
chemist ? Even if we take the most recondite 
and most complex operations of animal life those 
of the nervous system, these of late years have 
been shown to be I do not say identical in any 
sense with the electrical processes but this has 
been shown, that they are in some way or other 
associated with them ; that is to say, that every 
amount of nervous action is accompanied by a 
certain amount of electrical disturbance in the 
particles of the nerves in which that nervous 
action is carried on. In this way the nervous 
action is related to electricity in the same way 
that heat is related to electricity ; and the same 
sort of argument which demonstrates the two latter 
to be related to one another shows that the nervous 
forces are correlated to electricity ; for the experi- 
ments of M. Dubois Reymond and others have 
shown that whenever a nerve is in a state of 
excitement, sending a message to the muscles or 
conveying an impression to the brain, there is a 
disturbance of the electrical condition of that 
nerve which does not exist at other times ; and 
there are a number of other facts and phenomena 
of that sort ; so that we come to the broad con- 
clusion that not only as to living matter itself, but 
as to the forces that matter exerts, there is a close 



318 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

relationship between the organic and the inorganic 
world the difference between them arising from 
the diverse combination and disposition of identical 
forces, and not from any primary diversity, so far 
as we can see. 

I said just now that the horse eventually died 
and became converted into the same inorganic 
substances from whence all but an inappreciable 
fraction of its substance demonstrably originated, 
so that the actual wanderings of matter are as 
remarkable as the transmigrations of the soul 
fabled by Indian tradition. But before death has 
occurred, in the one sex or the other, and in fact 
in both, certain products or parts of the organism 
have been set free, certain parts of the organisms 
of the two sexes have come into contact with one 
another, and from that conjunction, from that 
union which then takes place, there results the 
formation of a new being. At stated times the 
rnare, from a particular part of the interior of her 
body, called the ovary, gets rid of a minute 
particle of matter comparable in all essential 
respects with that which we called a cell a little 
while since, which cell contains a kind of nucleus 
in its centre, surrounded by a clear space and by a 
viscid mass of protein substance (Fig. 2) ; and 
though it is different in appearance from the eggs 
which we are mostly acquainted with, it is really 
an egg. After a time this minute particle of 
matter, which may only be a small fraction of a 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 319 

grain in weight, undergoes a series of changes, 
wonderful, complex changes. Finally, upon its 
surface there is fashioned a little elevation, which 
afterwards becomes divided and marked by a 
groove. The lateral boundaries of the groove 
extend upwards and downwards, and at length 
give rise to a double tube. In the upper and 
smaller tube the spinal marrow and brain are 
fashioned ; in the lower, the alimentary canal and 
heart ; and at length two pairs of buds shoot out at 
the sides of the body, and they are the rudiments 
of the limbs. In fact a true drawing of a section 
of the embryo in this state would in all essehtial 
respects resemble that diagram of a horse reduced 
to its simplest expression, which I first placed 
before you (Fig. 1). 

Slowly and gradually these changes take place. 
The whole of the body, at first, can be broken up 
into "cells," which become in one place meta- 
morphosed into muscle, in another place into 
gristle and bone, in another place into fibrous 
tissue, and in another into hair ; every part 
becoming gradually and slowly fashioned, as if 
there were an artificer at work in each of these 
complex structures that I have mentioned. This 
embryo, as it is called, then passes into other con- 
ditions. I should tell you that there is a time when 
the embryos of neither dog, nor horse, nor porpoise, 
nor monkey, nor man, can be distinguished by any 
essential feature one from the other ; there is a 



320 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

time when they each and all of them resemble 
this one of the dog. But as development 
advances, all the parts acquire their speciality, 
till at length you have the embryo converted into 
the form of the parent from which it started. So 
that you see, this living animal, this horse, begins 
its existence as a minute particle of nitrogenous 
matter, which, being supplied with nutriment 
(derived, as I have shown, from the inorganic 
world), grows up according to the special type and 
construction of its parents, works and undergoes a 
constant waste, and that waste is made good by 
nutriment derived from the inorganic world ; the 
waste given off in this way being directly added 
to the inorganic world. Eventually the animal 
itself dies, and, by the process of decomposition, 
its whole body is returned to those conditions 
of inorganic matter in which its substance 
originated. 

This, then, is that which is true of every living 
form, from the lowest plant to the highest animal 
to man himself. You might define the life of 
every one in exactly the same terms as those 
which I have now used ; the difference between 
the highest and the lowest being simply in the 
complexity of the developmental changes, the 
variety of the structural forms, and the diversity 
of the physiological functions which are exerted 
by each. 

If I were to take an oak tree, as a specimen of 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 321 

the plant world, I should find that it originated in 
an acorn, which, too, commenced in a cell ; the 
acorn is placed in the ground, and it very speedily 
begins to absorb the inorganic matters I have 
named, adds enormously to its bulk, and we can 
see it, year after year, extending itself upward 
and downward, attracting and appropriating to 
itself inorganic materials, which it vivifies, and 
eventually, as it ripens, gives off its own proper 
acorns, which again run the same course. But I 
need not multiply examples, from the highest to 
the lowest the essential features of life are the 
same as I have described in each of these cases. 

So much, then, for these particular features of 
the organic world, which you can understand and 
comprehend, so long as you confine yourself to one 
sort of living being, and study that only. 

But, as you know, horses are not the only living 
creatures in the world ; and again, horses, like all 
other animals, have certain limits are confined 
to a certain area on the surface of the earth on 
which we live, and, as that is the simpler matter, 
I may take that first. In its wild state, and before 
the discovery of America, when the natural state 
of things was interfered with by the Spaniards, the 
horse was only to be found in parts of the earth 
which are known to geographers as the Old 
World ; that is to say, you might meet with 
horses in Europe, Asia, or Africa ; but there were 
none in Australia, and there were none whatsoever 



322 THE CAUSES OF THE X l 

in the whole continent of America, from Labrador 
down to Cape Horn. This is an empirical fact, and 
it is what is called, stated in the way I have 
given it you, the " Geographical Distribution " of 
the horse. 

Why horses should be found in Europe, Asia, 
and Africa, and not in America, is not obvious ; 
the explanation that the conditions of life in 
America are unfavourable to their existence, and 
that, therefore, they had not been created there, 
evidently does not apply ; for when the invading 
Spaniards, or our own yeomen farmers, conveyed 
horses to these countries for their own use, they 
were found to thrive well and multiply very 
rapidly ; and many are even now running wild in 
those countries, and in a perfectly natural condition. 
Now, suppose we were to do for every animal 
what we have here done for the horse, that is, 
to mark off and distinguish the particular district 
or region to which each belonged ; and supposing 
we tabulated all these results, that would be 
called the Geographical Distribution of animals, 
while a corresponding study of plants would yield 
as a result the Geographical Distribution of 
plants. 

I pass on from that now, as I merely wished to 
explain to you what I meant by the use of the 
term " Geographical Distribution." As I said, 
there is another aspect, and a much more im- 
portant one, and that is, the relations of the various 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 323 

animals to one another. The horse is a very well- 
defined matter-of-fact sort of animal, and we are 
all pretty familiar with its structure. I dare say 
it may have struck you, that it resembles very 
much no other member of the animal kingdom, 
except perhaps the zebra or the ass. But let me 
ask you to look along these diagrams. Here is 
the skeleton of the horse, and here the skeleton 
of the dog. You will notice that we have in the 
horse a skull, a backbone and ribs, shoulder-blades 
and haunch-bones. In the fore-limb, one upy er 
arm-bone, two fore arm-bones, wrist-bones (wrongly 
called knee), and middle hand-bones, ending in 
the three bones of a finger, the last of which is 
sheathed in the horny hoof of the fore-foot : in the 
hind-limb, one thigh-bone, two leg-bones, ankle- 
bones, and middle foot-bones, ending in the three 
bones of a toe, the last of which is encased in the 
hoof of the hind-foot. Now turn to the dog's 
skeleton. We find identically the same bones, but 
more of them, there being more toes in each foot, 
and hence more toe-bones. 

Well, that is a very curious thing ! The fact is 
that the dog and the horse when one gets a 
look at them without the outward impediments of 
the skin are found to be made in very much the 
same sort of fashion. And if I were to make a 
transverse section of the dog, I should find the 
same organs that I have already shown you as 
forming parts of the horse. Well, here is another 



324 ' THE CAUSES OF THE 



skeleton that of a kind of lemur you see he 
has just the same bones ; and if I were to make a 
transverse section of it, it would be just the same 
again. In your mind's eye turn him round, so as 
to put his backbone in a position inclined obliquely 
upwards and forwards, just as in the next three 
diagrams, which represent the skeletons of an 
orang, a chimpanzee, and a gorilla, and you find 
you have no trouble in identifying the bones 
throughout ; and lastly turn to the end of the 
series, the diagram representing a man's skeleton, 
and still you find no great structural feature 
essentially altered. There are the same bones in 
the same relations. From the horse we pass on 
and on, with gradual steps until we arrive at last 
at the highest known forms. On the other hand, 
take the other line of diagrams, and pass from the 
horse downwards in the scale to this fish ; and 
still, though the modifications are vastly greater, 
the essential framework of the organisation 
remains unchanged. Here, for instance, is a 
porpoise : here is its strong backbone, with the 
cavity running through it, which contains the 
spinal cord ; here are the ribs, here the shoulder- 
blade ; here is the little short upper-arm bone, 
here are the two forearm bones, the wrist-bone, 
and the finger-bones. 

Strange, is it not, that the porpoise should have 
in this queer-looking affair its flapper (as it is 
called), the same fundamental elements as the 



xi PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 325 

fore-leg of the horse or the dog, or the ape or 
man ; and here you will notice a very curious 
thing, the hinder limbs are absent. Now, let 
us make another jump. Let us go to the codfish : 
here you see is the forearm, in this large pectoral fin 
carrying your mind's eye onward from the flapper 
of the porpoise. And here you have the hinder 
limbs restored in the shape of these ventral fins. 
If I were to make a transverse section of this, I 
should find just the same organs that we have 
before noticed. So that, you see, there comes out 
this strange conclusion as the result of our 
investigations, that the horse, when examined 
and compared with other animals, is found by no 
means to stand alone in Nature ; but that there 
are an enormous number of other creatures which 
have backbones, ribs, and legs, and other parts 
arranged in the same general manner, and in 
all their formation exhibiting the same broad 
peculiarities. 

I am sure that you cannot have followed me 
even in this extremely elementary exposition of 
the structural relations of animals, without seeing 
what I have been driving at all through, which is, 
to show you that, step by step, naturalists have 
come to the idea of a unity of plan, or conformity 
of construction, among animals which appeared at 
first sight to be extremely dissimilar. 

And here you have evidence of such a unity of 
plan among all the animals which have backbones, 



326 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

L ,^,^/and which we technically call Vcrtebrata. But 
there are multitudes of other animals, such as 
crabs, lobsters, spiders, and so on, which we term 

PAnnulosa. In these I could not point out to you the 
parts that correspond with those of the horse, 
vn vl the backbone, for instance, as they are constructed 
upon a very different principle, which is also 
common to all of them ; that is to say, the lobster, 
the spider, and the centipede, have a common 
plan running through their whole arrangement, 
in just the same way that the horse, the dog, 
and the porpoise assimilate to each other. 

Yet other creatures whelks, cuttlefishes, 
oysters, snails, and all their tribe (Mollusca) 
resemble one another in the same way, but differ 
from both Vertebrata and Annulosa ; and the like 
is true of the animals called -Ccelentcrata (Polypes) 
and Protozoa (animalcules and sponges). 

Now, by pursuing this sort of comparison, 
naturalists have arrived at the conviction that 
there are, some think five, and some seven, but 
certainly not more than the latter number and 
perhaps it is simpler to assume five distinct plans 
or constructions in the whole of the animal world ; 
and that the hundreds of thousands of species 
of creatures on the surface of the earth, are all 
reducible to those five, or, at most, seven, plans of 
organisation. 

But can we go no further than that ? When 
one has got so far, one is tempted to go on a step 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 327 

and inquire whether we cannot go back yet 
further and bring down the whole to modifications 
of one primordial unit. The anatomist cannot do 
this ; but if he call to his aid the study of develop- 
ment, he can do it. For we shall find that, dis- 
tinct as those plans are, whether it be a porpoise 
or man, or lobster, or any of those other kinds I 
have mentioned, every one begins its existence 
with one and the same primitive form, that of 
the egg, consisting, as we have seen, of a nitro- 
genous substance, having a small particle or nucleus 
in the centre of it. Furthermore, the earlier 
changes of each are substantially the same. And 
it is in this that lies that true " unity of organi- 
sation " of the animal kingdom which has been 
guessed at and fancied for many years ; but which 
it has been left to the present time to be demon- 
strated by the careful study of development. But 
is it possible to go another step further still, and 
to show that in the same way the whole of the 
organic world is reducible to one primitive con- 
dition of form ? Is there among the plants the 
same primitive form of organisation, and is that 
identical with that of the animal kingdom ? The 
reply to that question, too, is not uncertain or 
doubtful. It is now proved that every plant 
begins its existence under the same form ; that is 
to say, in that of a cell a particle of nitrogenous 
matter having substantially the same conditions. 
So that if you trace back the oak to its first 

60 



328 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

germ, or a man, or a horse, or lobster, or oyster, or 
any other animal you choose to name, you shall find 
each and all of these commencing their existence 
in forms essentially similar to each other ; and, 
furthermore, that the first processes of growth, 
and many of the subsequent modifications, are 
essentially the same in principle in almost all. 

In conclusion, let me, in a few words, recapitu- 
late the positions which I have laid down. And 
you must understand that I have not been 
talking mere theory ; I have been speaking of 
matters which are as plainly demonstrable as the 
commonest propositions of Euclid of facts that 
must form the basis of all speculations and beliefs 
in Biological science. We have gradually traced 
down all organic forms, or, in other words, we have 
analysed the present condition of animated nature, 
until we found that each species took its origin in 
a form similar to that under which all the others 
commenced their existence. We have found the 
whole of the vast array of living forms with which 
we are surrounded, constantly growing, increasing, 
decaying and disappearing ; the animal constantly 
attracting, modifying, and applying to its susten- 
ance the matter of the vegetable kingdom, which 
derived its support from the absorption and con- 
version of inorganic matter. And so constant and 
universal is this absorption, waste, and repro- 
duction, that it may be said with perfect certainty 
that there is left in no one of our bodies at the 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 329 

present moment a millionth part of the matter of 
which they were originally formed! We have 
seen, again, that not only is the living matter 
derived from the inorganic world, but that the 
forces of that matter are all of them correlative 
with and convertible into those of inorganic 
nature. 

This, for our present purposes, is the best view 
of the present condition of organic nature which I 
can lay before you : it gives you the great outlines 
of a vast picture, which you must fill up by your 
own study. 

In the next lecture I shall endeavour in the 
same way to go back into the past, and to sketch 
in the same broad manner the history of life in 
epochs preceding our own. 



II 

THE PAST CONDITION OF ORGANIC NATURE. 

IN the lecture which, I delivered last Monday 
evening, I endeavoured to sketch in a very brief 
manner, but as well as the time at my disposal 
would permit, the present condition of organic 
nature, meaning by that large title simply an 
indication of the great, broad, and general 
principles which are to be discovered by those 
who look attentively at the phenomena of organic 
nature as at present displayed. The general 
result of our investigations might be summed up 
thus : we found that the multiplicity of the forms 
of animal life, great as that may be, may be 
reduced to a comparatively few primitive plans or 
types of construction ; that a further study of the 
development of those different forms revealed to 
us that they were again reducible, until we at 
last brought the infinite diversity of animal, and 
even vegetable life, down to the primordial form 
of a single cell. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 331 

We found that our analysis of the organic 
world, whether animals or plants, showed, in the 
long run, that they might both be reduced into, 
and were, in fact, composed of, the same con- 
stituents. And we saw that the plant obtained 
the materials constituting its substance by a 
peculiar combination of matters belonging entirely 
to the inorganic world ; that, then, the animal was 
constantly appropriating the nitrogenous matters 
of the plant to its own nourishment, and returning 
them back to the inorganic world, in what we 
spoke of as its waste ; and that finally, when the 
animal ceased to exist, the constituents of its body 
were dissolved and transmitted to that inorganic 
world whence they had been at first abstracted. 
, Thus we saw in both the blade of grass and the 
horse but the same elements differently combined 
and arranged. We discovered a continual circula- 
tion going on, the plant drawing in the elements 
of inorganic nature and combining them into food 
for the animal creation ; the animal borrowing 
from the plant the matter for its own support, 
giving off during its life products which returned 
immediately to the inorganic world; and that, 
eventually, the constituent materials of the whole 
structure of both animals and plants were thus 
returned to their original source : there was a 
constant passage from one state of existence to 
another, and a returning back again. 

Lastly, when we endeavoured to form some 



332 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

notion of the nature of the forces exercised by 
living beings, we discovered that they if not 
capable of being subjected to the same minute 
analysis as the constituents of those beings them- 
selves that they were correlative with that they 
were the equivalents of the forces of inorganic 
nature that they were, in the sense in which the 
term is now used, convertible with them. That was 
our general result. 

And now, leaving the Present, I must endeavour 
in the same manner to put before you the facts 
that are to be discovered in the Past history of 
the living world, in the past conditions of organic 
nature. We have, to-night, to deal with the facts 
of that history a history involving periods of 
time before which our mere human records sink 
into utter insignificance a history the variety and 
physical magnitude of whose events cannot even 
be foreshadowed by the history of human life and 
human phenomena a history of the most varied 
and complex character. 

We must deal with the history, then, in the 
first place, as we should deal with all other 
histories. The historical student knows that his 
first business should be to inquire into the validity 
of his evidence, and the nature of the record in 
which the evidence is contained, that he may be 
able to form a proper estimate of the correctness 
of the conclusions which have been drawn from 
that evidence. So, here, we must pass, in the first 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 333 

place, to the consideration of a matter which may 
seem foreign to the question under discussion. 
We must dwell upon the nature of the records, 
and the credibility of the evidence they contain ; 
we must look to the completeness or incomplete- 
ness of those records themselves, before we turn to 
that which they contain and reveal. The question 
of the credibility of the history, happily for us, 
will not require much consideration, for, in this 
history, unlike those of human origin, there can 
be no cavilling, no differences as to the reality and 
truth of the facts of which it is made up ; the 
facts state themselves, and are laid out clearly 
before us. 

But, although one of the greatest difficulties of 
the historical student is cleared out of our path, 
there are other difficulties difficulties in rightly 
interpreting the facts as they are presented to us 
which may be compared with the greatest 
difficulties of any other kinds of historical study. 

What is this record of the past history of the 
globe, and what are the questions which are 
involved in an inquiry into its completeness or 
incompleteness? That record is composed of 
mud ; and the question which we have to investi- 
gate this evening resolves itself into a question of 
the formation of mud. You may think, perhaps, 
that this is a vast step of almost from the 
sublime to the ridiculous from the contemplation 
of the history of the past ages of the world's 



334 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

existence to the consideration of the history of the 
formation of mud ! But, in Nature, there is 
nothing mean and unworthy of attention ; there is 
nothing ridiculous or contemptible in any of her 
works ; and this inquiry, you will soon see, I hope, 
takes us to the very root and foundations of our 
subject. 

How, then, is mud formed ? Always, with 
some trifling exceptions, which I need not consider 
now always, as the result of the action of water, 
wearing down and disintegrating the surface of 
the earth and rocks with which it comes in 
contact pounding and grinding it down, and 
carrying the particles away to places where they 
cease to be disturbed by this mechanical action, 
and where they can subside and rest. For the 
ocean, urged by winds, washes, as we know, a long 
extent of coast, and every wave, loaded as it is 
with particles of sand and gravel as it breaks 
upon the shore, does something towards the dis- 
integrating process. And thus, slowly but surely, 
the hardest rocks are gradually ground down to a 
powdery substance ; and the mud thus formed, 
coarser or finer, as the case may be, is carried by 
the rush of the tides, or currents, till it reaches 
the comparatively deeper parts of the ocean, in 
which it can sink to the bottom, that is, to parts 
where there is a depth of about fourteen or fifteen 
fathoms, a depth at which the water is, usually, 
nearly motionless, and in which, of course, the 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 335 

finer particles of this detritus, or mud as we call 
it, sinks to the bottom. 

Or, again, if you take a river, rushing down 
from its mountain sources, brawling over the 
stones and rocks that intersect its path, loosening, 
removing, and carrying with it in its downward 
course the pebbles and lighter matters from its 
banks, it crushes and pounds down the rocks and 
earths in precisely the same way as the wearing 
action of the sea waves. The matters forming the 
deposit are torn from the mountain-side and 
whirled impetuously into the valley, more slowly 
over the plain, thence into the estuary, and from 
the estuary they are swept into the sea. The 
coarser and heavier fragments are obviously 
deposited first, that is, as soon as the current 
begins to lose its force by becoming amalgamated 
with the stiller depths of the ocean, but the finer 
and lighter particles are carried further on, and 
eventually deposited in a deeper and stiller portion 
of the ocean. 

It clearly follows from this that mud gives us a 
chronology ; for it is evident that supposing this, 
which I now sketch, to be the sea bottom, and 
supposing this to be a coast-line ; from the wash- 
ing action of the sea upon the rock, wearing and 
grinding it down into a sediment of mud, the mud 
will be carried down, and, at length, deposited in 
the deeper parts of this sea bottom, where it will 
form a layer ; and then, while that first layer is 



336 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

hardening, other mud which is coming from the 
same source will, of course, be carried to the same 
place ; and, as it is quite impossible for it to get 
beneath the layer already there, it deposits itself 
above it, and forms another layer, and in that 
way you gradually have layers of mud constantly 
forming and hardening one above the other, and 
conveying a record of time. 

It is a necessary result of the operation of the 
law of gravitation that the uppermost layer shall 
be the youngest and the lowest the oldest, and 
that the different beds shall be older at any 
particular point or spot in exactly the ratio of their 
depth from the surface. So that if they were 
upheaved afterwards, and you had a series of 
these different layers of mud, converted into sand- 
stone, or limestone, as the case might be, you 
might be sure that the bottom layer was deposited 
first, and that the upper layers were formed after- 
wards. Here, you see, is the first step in the history 
these layers of mud give us an idea of time. 

The whole surface of the earth, I speak 
broadly, and leave out minor qualifications, is 
made up of such layers of mud, so hard, the 
majority of them, that we call them rock whether 
limestone or sandstone, or other varieties of rock. 
And, seeing that every part of the crust of the 
earth is made up in this way, you might think 
that the determination of the chronology, the 
fixing of the time which it has taken to form this 



Xi PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 337 

crust is a comparatively simple matter. Take a 
broad average, ascertain how fast the mud is 
deposited upon the bottom of the sea, or in the 
estuary of rivers ; take it to be an inch, or two, or 
three inches a year, or whatever you may roughly 
estimate it at ; then take the total thickness of 
the whole series of stratified rocks, which geolo- 
gists estimate at twelve or thirteen miles, or about 
seventy thousand feet, make a sum in short 
division, divide the total thickness by that of the 
quantity deposited in one year, and the result will, 
of course, give you the number of years which the 
crust has taken to form. 

Truly, that looks a very simple process ! It 
would be so except for certain difficulties, the very 
first of which is that of finding how rapidly 
sediments are deposited ; but the main difficulty 
a difficulty which renders any certain calcula- 
tions of such a matter out of the question is 
this, the sea-bottom on which the deposit takes 
place is continually shifting. 

Instead of the surface of the earth being that 
stable, fixed thing that it is popularly believed to 
be, being, in common parlance, the very emblem 
of fixity itself, it is incessantly moving, and is, 
in fact, as unstable as the surface of the sea, 
except that its undulations are infinitely slower 
and enormously higher and deeper. 

Now, what is the effect of this oscillation? 
Take the case to which I have previously 



338 



THE CAUSES OF THE 



referred. The finer or coarser sediments that 
are carried down by the current of the river, 
will only be carried out a certain distance, and 
eventually, as we have already seen, on reaching 
the stiller part of the ocean, will be deposited at 
the bottom. 

Let C y (Fig. 4) be the sea-bottom, y D the 
shore, x y the sea-level, then the coarser deposit 
will subside over the region B, the finer over A, 
while beyond A there will be no deposit at all 




Fig.4- 



and, consequently, no record will be kept, simply 
because no deposit is going on. Now, suppose 
that the whole land, C, D, which we have regarded 
as stationary, goes down, as it does so, both A arid 
B go further out from the shore, which will be at 
y 1 ; sc l , y*, being the new sea-level. The con- 
sequence will be that the layer of mud (A), being 
now, for the most part, further than the force of 
the current is strong enough to convey even the 
finest ddbris, will, of course, receive no more 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 339 

deposits, and having attained a certain thickness 
will now grow no thicker. 

We should be misled in taking the thickness of 
that layer, whenever it may be exposed to our 
view, as a record of time in the manner in which 
we are now regarding this subject, as it would 
give us only an imperfect and partial record : 
it would seem to represent too short a period of 
time. 

Suppose, on the other hand, that the land (C D) 
had gone on rising slowly and gradually say an 
inch or two inches in the course of a century, 
what would be the practical effect of that move- 
ment ? Why, that the sediment A and B which 
has been already deposited, would eventually be 
brought nearer to the shore-level and again sub- 
jected to the wear and tear of the sea ; and directly 
the sea begins to act upon it, it would of course 
soon cut up and carry it way, to a greater or less 
extent, to be re-deposited further out. 

Well, as there is, in all probability, not one single 
spot on the whole surface of the earth, which has 
not been up and down in this way a great many 
times, it follows that the thickness of the deposits 
formed at any particular spot cannot be taken 
(even supposing we had at first obtained correct 
data as to the rate at which they took place), as 
affording reliable information as to the period of 
time occupied in its deposit. So that you see it is 
absolutely necessary from these facts, seeing that 



340 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

our record entirely consists of accumulations of 
mud, superimposed one on the other ; seeing in 
the next place that any particular spots on which 
accumulations have occurred, have been constantly 
moving up and down, and sometimes out of the 
reach of a deposit, and at other times its own 
deposit broken up and carried away, it follows that 
our record must be in the highest degree imper- 
fect, and we have hardly a trace left of thick 
deposits, or any definite knowledge of the area 
that they occupied, in a great many cases. And 
mark this ! That supposing even that the whole 
surface of the earth had been accessible to the 
geologist, that man had had access to every part 
of the earth, and had made sections of the whole, 
and put them all together, even then his record 
must of necessity be imperfect. 

But to how much has man really access ? If 
you will look at this map you will see that it 
represents the proportion of the sea to the earth : 
this coloured part indicates all the dry land, and 
this other portion is the water. You will notice 
at once that the water covers three-fifths of the 
whole surface of the globe, and has covered it in 
the same manner ever since man has kept any 
record of his own observations, to say nothing of 
the minute period during which he has cultivated 
geological inquiry. So that three-fifths of the 
surface of the earth is shut out from us because 
it is under the sea. Let us look at the other 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 341 

two-fifths, and see what are the countries in 
which anything that may he termed searching 
geological inquiry has been carried out : a good 
deal of France, Germany, and Great Britain and 
Ireland, bits of Spain, of Italy, and of Russia, have 
been examined, but of the whole great mass of 
Africa, except parts of the southern extremity, 
we know next to nothing ; little bits of India, but 
of the greater part of the Asiatic continent 
nothing ; bits of the Northern American States 
and of Canada, but of the greater part of the 
continent of North America, and in still larger 
proportion, of South America, nothing ! 

Under these circumstances, it follows that even 
with reference to that kind of imperfect informa- 
tion which we can possess, it is only of about the 
ten-thousandth part of the accessible parts of the 
earth that has been examined properly. There- 
fore, it is with justice that the most thoughtful of 
those who are concerned in these inquiries insist 
continually upon the imperfection of the geological 
record ; for, I repeat, it is absolutely necessary, 
from the nature of things, that that record should 
be of the most fragmentary and imperfect 
character. Unfortunately this circumstance has 
been constantly forgotten. Men of science, like 
young colts in a fresh pasture, are apt to be 
exhilarated on being turned into a new field of 
inquiry, to go off at a hand-gallop, in total 
disregard of hedges and ditches, to lose sight of 



342 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

the real limitation of their inquiries, and to 
forget the extreme imperfection of what is really 
known. Geologists have imagined that they could 
tell us what was going on at all parts of the 
earth's surface during a given epoch ; they have 
talked of this deposit being contemporaneous with 
that deposit, until, from our little local histories of 
the changes at limited spots of the earth's surface, 
they have constructed a universal history of the 
globe as full of wonders and portents as any other 
story of antiquity. 

But what does this attempt to construct a 
universal history of the globe imply ? It implies 
that we shall not only have a precise knowledge of 
the events which have occurred at any particular 
point, but that we shall be able to say what events, 
at any one spot, took place at the same time with 
those at other spots. 

Let us see how far that is in the nature of 
things practicable. Suppose that here I make 
a section of the Lake of Killarney, and here the 
section of another lake that of Loch Lomond 
in Scotland for instance. The rivers that flow 
into them are constantly carrying down deposits 
of mud, and beds, or strata, are being as constantly 
formed, one above the other, at the bottom of 
those lakes. Now, there is not a shadow of doubt 
that in these two lakes the lower beds are all 
older than the upper there is no doubt about 
that ; but what does this tell us about the age of 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 343 

any given bed in Loch Lomond, as compared with 
that of any given bed in the Lake of Killarney ? 
It is, indeed, obvious that if any two sets of 
deposits are separated and discontinuous, there is 
absolutely no means whatever given you by the 
nature of the deposit of saying whether one is 
much younger or older than the other ; but you 
may say, as many have said and think, that the 
case is very much altered if the beds which we 
are comparing are continuous. Suppose two beds 



Fig.s. 

of mud hardened into rock, A and B are seen 
in section. (Fig. 5.) 

Well, you say, it is admitted that the lower- 
most bed is always the older. Very well ; B, 
therefore, is older than A. No doubt, as a whole, 
it is so ; or if any parts of the two beds which are 
in the same vertical line are compared, it is so. 
But suppose you take what seems a very natural 
step further, and say that the part a of the bed A 
is younger than the part b of the bed B. Is this 
sound reasoning ? If you find any record of 
changes taking place at b, did they occur before 

51 



344 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

any events which took place while a was being 
deposited ? It looks all very plain sailing, indeed, 
to say that they did ; and yet there is no proof of 
anything of the kind. As the former Director of 
this Institution, Sir H. De la Beche, long ago 
showed, this reasoning may involve an entire 
fallacy. It is extremely possible that a may have 
been deposited ages before b. It is very easy to 
understand how that can be. To return to Fig. 
4 ; when A and B were deposited, they were 
substantially contemporaneous ; A being simply 
the finer deposit, and B the coarser of the same 
detritus or waste of land. Now suppose that 
that sea-bottom goes down (as shown in Fig. 4), 
so that the first deposit is carried no farther than 
a, forming the bed A 1 , and the coarse no farther 
than b, forming the bed B 1 , the result will be the 
formation of two continuous beds, one of fine 
sediment (A A 1 ) over-lapping another of coarse 
sediment (B B 1 ). Now suppose the whole sea- 
bottom is raised up, and a section exposed about 
the point A 1 ; no doubt, at this spot, the upper 
bed is younger than the lower. But we should 
obviously greatly err if we concluded that the 
mass of the upper bed at A was younger than the 
lower bed at B ; for we have just seen that they 
are contemporaneous deposits. Still more should 
we be in error if we supposed the upper bed at A 
to be younger than the continuation of the lower 
bed at B x ; for A was deposited long before B \ 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 345 

In fine, if, instead of comparing immediately 
adjacent parts o two beds, one of which lies upon 
another, we compare distant parts, it is quite 
possible that the upper may be any number of 
years older than the under, and the under any 
number of years younger than the upper. 

Now you must not suppose that I put this 
before you for the purpose of raising a paradoxical 
difficulty; the fact is, that the great mass of 
deposits have taken place in sea-bottoms which 
are gradually sinking, and have been formed 
under the very conditions I am here supposing. 

Do not run away with the notion that this 
subverts the principle I laid down at first. The 
error lies in extending a principle which is per- 
fectly applicable to deposits in the same vertical 
line to deposits which are not in that relation to 
one another. 

It is in consequence of circumstances of this 
kind, and of others that I might mention to you, 
that our conclusions on and interpretations of the 
record are really and strictly only valid so long as 
we confine ourselves to one vertical section. I do 
not mean to tell you that there are no qualifying 
circumstances, so that, even in very considerable 
areas, we may safely speak of conformably super- 
imposed beds being older or younger than others 
at many different points. But we can never be 
quite sure in coming to that conclusion, and 
especially we cannot be sure if there is any break 



346 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

in their continuity, or any very great distance 
between the points to be compared. 

Well now, so much for the record itself, so 
much for its imperfections, so much for the con- 
ditions to be observed in interpreting it, and its 
chronological indications, the moment we pass 
beyond the limits of a vertical linear section. 

Now let us pass from the record to that which it 
contains, from the book itself to the writing and 
the figures on its pages. This writing and these 
figures consist of remains of animals and plants 
which, in the great majority of cases, have lived 
and died in the very spot in which we now find 
them, or at least in the immediate vicinity. You 
must all of you be aware and I referred to the 
fact in my last lecture that there are vast 
numbers of creatures living at the bottom of the 
sea. These creatures, like all others, sooner or 
later die, and their shells and hard parts lie at 
the bottom ; and then the fine mud which is 
being constantly brought down by rivers and the 
action of the wear and tear of the sea, covers 
them over and protects them from any further 
change or alteration ; and, of course, as in process 
of time the mud becomes hardened and solidified, 
the shells of these animals are preserved and 
firmly imbedded in the limestone or sandstone 
which is being thus formed. You may see in the 
galleries of the Museum up stairs specimens of 
limestones in which such fossil remains of existing 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 347 

animals are imbedded. There are some specimens 
in which turtles' eggs have been imbedded in 
calcareous sand, and before the sun had hatched 
the young turtles, they became covered over with 
calcareous mud, and thus have been preserved 
and fossilised. 

Not only does this process of imbedding and 
fossilisation occur with marine and other aquatic 
animals and plants, but it affects those land 
animals and plants which are drifted away to sea, 
or become buried in bogs or morasses; and the 
animals which have been trodden down by their 
fellows and crushed in the mud at the river's 
bank, as the herd have come to drink. In any of 
these cases, the organisms may be crushed or be 
mutilated, before or after putrefaction, in such a 
manner that perhaps only a part will be left in 
the form in which it reaches us. It is, indeed, a 
most remarkable fact, that it is quite an exceptional 
case to find a skeleton of any one of all the 
thousands of wild land animals that we know are 
constantly being killed, or dying in the course of 
nature : they are preyed on and devoured by 
other animals, or die in places where their bodies 
are not afterwards protected by mud. There are 
other animals existing on the sea, the shells of 
which form exceedingly large deposits. You are 
probably aware that before the attempt was made 
to lay the Atlantic telegraphic cable, the Govern- 
ment employed vessels in making a series of very 



348 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

careful observations and soundings of the bottom 
of the Atlantic; and although, as we must all 
regret, that up to the present time that project has 
not succeeded, we have the satisfaction of knowing 
that it yielded some most remarkable results to 
science. The Atlantic Ocean had to be sounded 
right across, to depths of several miles in some 
places, and the nature of its bottom was carefully 
ascertained. Well, now, a space of about 1,000 
miles wide from east to west, and I do not exactly 
know how many from north to south, but at any 
rate 600 or 700 miles, was carefully examined, and 
it was found that over the whole of that immense 
area an excessively fine chalky mud is being 
deposited ; and this deposit is entirely made up of 
animals whose hard parts are deposited in this 
part of the ocean, and are doubtless gradually 
acquiring solidity and becoming metamorphosed 
into a chalky limestone. Thus, you see, it is quite 
possible in this way to preserve unmistakable 
records of animal and vegetable life. Whenever 
the sea-bottom, by some of those undulations of 
the earth's crust that I have referred to, becomes 
up-heaved, and sections or borings are made, or 
pits are dug, then we become able to examine 
the contents and constituents of these ancient sea- 
bottoms, and find out what manner of animals 
lived at that period. 

Now it is a very important consideration in its 
bearing on the completeness of the record, to 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 349 

inquire how far the remains contained in these 
fossiliferous limestones are able to convey any- 
thing like an accurate or complete account of the 
animals which were in existence at the time of its 
formation. Upon that point we can form a very 
clear judgment, and one in which there is no 
possible room for any mistake. There are of 
course a great number of animals such as jelly- 
fishes, and other animals without any hard parts, 
of which we cannot reasonably expect to find any 
traces whatever : there is nothing of them to pre- 
serve. Within a very short time, you will have 
noticed, after they are removed from the water, 
they dry up to a mere nothing ; certainly they 
are not of a nature to leave any very visible traces 
of their existence on such bodies as chalk or mud. 
Then again, look at land animals ; it is, as I have 
said, a very uncommon thing to find a land animal 
entire after death. Insects and other carnivorous 
animals very speedily pull them to pieces, putre- 
faction takes place, and so, out of the hundreds of 
thousands that are known to die every year, it is 
the rarest thing in the world to see one imbedded 
in such a way that its remains would be preserved 
for a lengthened period. Not only is this the 
case, but even when animal remains have been 
safely imbedded, certain natural agents may wholly 
destroy and remove them. 

Almost all the hard parts of animals the 
bones and so on are composed chiefly of phosphate 



350 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

of lime and carbonate of lime. Some years ago, 
I had to make an inquiry into the nature of some 
very curious fossils sent to me from the North of 
Scotland. Fossils are usually hard bony structures 
that have become imbedded in the way I have de- 
scribed, and have gradually acquired the nature and 
solidity of the body with which they are associated ; 
but in this case I had a series of holes in some 
pieces of rock, and nothing else. Those holes, 
however, had a certain definite shape about them, 
and when I got a skilful workman to make castings 
of the interior of these holes, I found that they 
were the impressions of the joints of a backbone 
and of the armour of a great reptile, twelve or more 
feet long. This great beast had died and got 
buried in the sand ; the sand had gradually 
hardened over the bones, but remained porous. 
Water had trickled through it, and that water 
being probably charged with a superfluity of 
carbonic acid, had dissolved all the phosphate and 
carbonate of lime, and the bones themselves had 
thus decayed and entirely disappeared ; but as 
the sandstone happened to have consolidated by 
that time, the precise shape of the bones was 
retained. If that sandstone had remained soft a 
little longer, we should have known nothing what- 
soever of the existence of the reptile whose bones 
it had encased. 

How certain it is that a vast number of animals 
which have existed at one period on this earth 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 351 

have entirely perished, and left no trace whatever 
of their forms, may be proved to you by other 
considerations. There are large tracts of sand- 
stone in various parts of the world, in which 
nobody has yet found anything but footsteps. 
Not a bone of any description, but an enormous 
number of traces of footsteps. There is no 
question about them. There is a whole valley in 
Connecticut covered with these footsteps, and not 
a single fragment of the animals which made 
them have yet been found. Let me mention 
another case while upon that matter, which is 
even more surprising than those to which I have 
yet referred. There is a limestone formation near 
Oxford, at a place called Stonesfield, which has 
yielded the remains of certain very interesting 
mammalian animals, and up to this time, if I 
recollect rightly, there have been found seven 
specimens of its lower jaws, and not a bit of any- 
thing else, neither limb-bones nor skull, nor any 
part whatever; not a fragment of the whole 
system ! Of course, it would be preposterous to 
imagine that the beasts had nothing else but a 
lower jaw ! The probability is, as Dr. Buckland 
showed, as the result of his observations on dead 
dogs in the river Thames, that the lower jaw, not 
being secured by very firm ligaments to the bones 
of the head, and being a weighty affair, would 
easily be knocked off, or might drop away from 
the body as it floated in water in a state of de- 



352 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

composition. The jaw would thus be deposited 
immediately, while the rest of the body would 
float and drift away altogether, ultimately reaching 
the sea, and perhaps becoming destroyed. The 
jaw becomes covered up and preserved in the river 
silt, and thus it comes that we have such a 
curious circumstance as that of the lower jaws in 
the Stonesfield slates. So that, you see, faulty as 
these layers of stone in the earth's crust are, 
defective as they necessarily are as a record, the 
account of contemporaneous vital phenomena 
presented by them is, by the necessity of the case, 
infinitely more defective and fragmentary. 

It was necessary that I should put all this very 
strongly before you, because, othenvise, you might 
have been led to think differently of the com- 
pleteness of our knowledge by the next facts I 
shall state to you. 

The researches of the last three-quarters of a 
century have, in truth, revealed a wonderful 
richness of organic life in those rocks. Certainly 
not fewer than thirty or forty thousand different 
species of fossils have been discovered. You have 
no more ground for doubting that these creatures 
really lived and died at or near the places in 
which we find them than you have for like 
scepticism about a shell on the sea-shore. The 
evidence is as good in the one case as in the other. 

Our next business is to look at the general 
character of these fossil remains, and it is a subject 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 353 

which will be requisite to consider carefully ; and 
the first point for us is to examine how much the 
extinct Flora and Fauna as a whole disregarding 
altogether the succession of their constituents, of 
which I shall speak afterwards differ from the 
Flora and Fauna of the present day ; how far they 
differ in what we do know about them, leaving 
altogether out of consideration speculations based 
upon what we do not know. 

I strongly imagine that if it were not for the 
peculiar appearance that fossilised animals have, 
any of you might readily walk through a 
museum which contains fossil remains mixed up 
with those of the present forms of life, and I doubt 
very much whether your uninstructed eyes would 
lead you to see any vast or wonderful difference 
between the two. If you looked closely, you would 
notice, in the first place, a great many things very 
like animals with which you are acquainted now : 
you would see differences of shape and proportion, 
but on the whole a close similarity. 

I explained what I meant by ORDERS the other 
day, when I described the animal kingdom as 
being divided into sub-kingdoms, classes and 
orders. If you divide the animal kingdom into 
orders you will find that there are above one 
hundred and twenty. The number may vary on 
one side or the other, but this is a fair estimate. 
That is the sum total of the orders of all the 
animals which we know now, and which have 



354 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

been known in past times, and left remains 
behind. 

Now, how many of those are absolutely extinct ? 
That is to say, how many of these orders of animals 
have lived at a former period of the world's history 
but have at present no representatives ? That is 
the sense in which I meant to use the word 
" extinct." I mean that those animals did live 
on this earth at one time, but have left no one 
of their kind with us at the present moment. 
So that estimating the number of extinct animals 

>- -* s a sor * ^ wa y ^ com P ar i n g the P as t creation as 
. . f-tf a whole with the present as a whole. Among the 
mammalia and birds there are none extinct ; but 
-^vv when we come to the reptiles there is a most 

wonderful thing : out of the eight orders, or 
thereabouts, which you can make among reptiles, 
one-half are extinct. These diagrams of the 
/ plesiosaurus, the' ichthyosaurus, th^ pterodactyle, 
give you a notion of some of these extinct reptiles. 
And here is a cast of the pterodactyle and bones 
of the ichthyosaurus and the plesiosaurus, just as 
fresh-looking as if it had been recently dug up in a 
churchyard. Thus, in the reptile class, there are 
no less than half of the orders which are absolutely 
extinct. If we turn to the Amphibia, there was 
one extinct order, the Labyrinthodonts, typified 
by the large salamander-like beast shown in this 
diagram. 

No order of fishes is known to be extinct. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 355 

Every fish that we find in the strata to which I 
have been referring can be identified and placed 
in one of the orders which exist at the present day. 
There is not known to be a single ordinal form 
of insect extinct. There are only two orders 
extinct among the Crustacea. There is not known 
to be an extinct order of these creatures, the 
parasitic and other worms ; but there are two, not 
to say three, absolutely extinct orders of this 
class, the Echinodermata ; out of all the orders of 
the Calenterata and Protozoa only one, the Rugose 
Corals. 

So that, you see, out of somewhere about 120 
orders of animals, taking them altogether, you 
will not, at the outside estimate, find above ten 
or a dozen extinct. Summing up all the order of 
animals which have left remains behind them, 
you will not find above ten or a dozen which 
cannot be arranged with those of the present day ; 
that is to say, that the difference does not amount 
to much more than ten per cent. : and the 
proportion of extinct orders of plants is still 
smaller. I think that that is a very astounding 
a most astonishing fact : seeing the enormous 
epochs of time which have elapsed during the 
constitution of the surface of the earth as it at 
present exists, it is, indeed, a most astounding 
thing that the proportion of extinct ordinal types 
should be so exceedingly small. 

But now, there is another point of view in which 



356 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

we must look at this past creation. Suppose that 
we were to sink a vertical pit through the floor 
beneath us, and that I could succeed in making 
a section right through in the direction of New 
Zealand, I should find in each of the different 
beds through which I passed the remains of 
animals which I should find in that stratum and 
not in the others. First, I should come upon 
beds of gravel or drift containing the bones of 
large animals, such as the elephant, rhinoceros, 
and cave tiger. Rather curious things to fall 
across in Piccadilly ! If I should dig lower still, 
I should come upon a bed of what we call the 
London clay, and in this, as you will see in 
our galleries up stairs, are found remains of 
strange cattle, remains of turtles, palms, and large 
tropical fruits ; with shell-fish such as you see the 
like of now only in tropical regions. If I went 
below that, I should come upon the chalk, and 
there I should find something altogether different, 
the remains of ichthyosauria and pterodactyles, 
and ammonites, and so forth. 

I do not know what Mr. Godwin Austin would 
say comes next, but probably rocks containing 
more ammonites, and more ichthyosauria and 
plesiosauria, with a vast number of other things ; 
and under that I should meet with yet older 
rocks containing numbers of strange shells and 
fishes ; and in thus passing from the surface to the 
lowest depths of the earth's crust, the forms of 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 357 

animal ]ife and vegetable life which I should meet 
with in the successive beds would, looking at them 
broadly, be the more different the further that I 
went down. Or, in other words, inasmuch as we 
started with the clear principle, that in a series of 
naturally-disposed mud beds the lowest are the 
oldest, we should come to this result, that the 
further we go back in time the more difference 
exists between the animal and vegetable life of 
an epoch and that which now exists. That was 
the conclusion to which I wished to bring you at 
the end of this lecture. 



Ill 



THE METHOD BY WHICH THE CAUSES OF THE 
PRESENT AND PAST CONDITIONS OF ORGANIC 
NATURE ARE TO BE DISCOVERED. THE 
ORIGINATION OF LIVING BEINGS. 

IN the two preceding lectures I have endeavoured 
to indicate to you the extent of the subject-matter 
of the inquiry upon which we are engaged ; and 
having thus acquired some conception of the past 
and present phenomena of organic nature, I must 
now turn to that which constitutes the great prob- 
lem which we have set before ourselves ; I mean, 
the question of what knowledge we have of the 
causes of these phenomena of organic nature, and 
how such knowledge is obtainable. 

Here, on the threshold of the inquiry, an 
objection meets us. There are in the world a 
number of extremely worthy, well-meaning 
persons, whose judgments and opinions are 
entitled to the utmost respect on account of 
their sincerity, who are of opinion that vital 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 359 

phenomena, and especially all questions relating 
to the origin of vital phenomena, are questions 
quite apart from the ordinary run of inquiry, and 
are, by their very nature, placed out of our reach. 
They say that all these phenomena originated 
miraculously, or in some way totally different from 
the ordinary course of nature, and that therefore 
they conceive it to ba futile, not to say pre- 
sumptuous, to attempt to inquire into them. 

To such sincere and earnest persons, I would 
only say, that a question of this kind is not to be 
shelved upon theoretical or speculative grounds. 
You may remember the story of the Sophist who 
demonstrated to Diogenes in the most complete 
and satisfactory manner that he could not walk ; 
that, in fact, all motion was an impossibility ; and 
that Diogenes refuted him by simply getting up 
and walking round his tub. So, in the same way, 
the man of science replies to objections of this 
kind, by simply getting up and walking onward, 
and showing what science has done and is doing 
by pointing to that immense mass of facts 
which have been ascertained as systematised 
under the forms of the great doctrines of morpho- 
l v > f development, of distribution, and the 
like. He sees an enormous mass of facts and laws 
relating to organic beings, which stand on the 
same good sound foundation as every other natural 
law. With this mass of facts and laws before us, 
therefore, seeing that, as far as organic matters 

62 



3GO THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

have hitherto been accessible and studied, they 
have shown themselves capable of yielding to 
scientific investigation, we may accept this as 
proof that order and law reign there as well as 
in the rest of Nature. The man of science says 
nothing to objectors of this sort, but supposes 
that we can and shall walk to a knowledge of the 
origin of organic nature, in the same Avay that we 
have walked to a knowledge of the laws and 
principles of the inorganic world. 

But there are objectors who say the same from 
ignorance and ill-will. To such I would reply 
that the objection comes ill from them, and that 
the real presumption, I may almost say the real 
blasphemy, in this matter, is in the attempt to 
limit that inquiry into the causes of phenomena, 
which is the source of all human blessings, and 
from which has sprung all human prosperity and 
progress ; for, after all, we can accomplish com- 
paratively little ; the limited range of our own 
faculties bounds us on every side, the field of 
our powers of observation is small enough, and 
he who endeavours to narrow the sphere of our 
inquiries is only pursuing a course that is likely 
to produce the greatest harm to his fellow- 
men. 

But now, assuming, as we all do, I hope, that 
these phenomena are properly accessible to inquiry ; 
and setting out upon our search into the causes 
of the phenomena of organic nature, or at any 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 361 

rate, setting out to discover how much we at 
present know upon these abstruse matters, the 
question arises as to what is to be our course of 
proceeding, and what method we must lay down 
for our guidance. I reply to that question, that 
our method must be exactly the same as that which 
is pursued in any other scientific inquiry, the 
method of scientific investigation being the same 
for all orders of facts and phenomena whatsoever. 

I must dwell a little on this point, for I wish you 
to leave this room with a very clear conviction that 
scientific investigation is not, as many people seem 
to suppose, some kind of modern black art. I say 
that you might easily gather this impression from 
the manner in which many persons speak of 
scientific inquiry, or talk about inductive and 
deductive philosophy, or the principles of the 
" Baconian philosophy." I do protest that, of the 
vast number of cants in this world, there are 
none, to my mind, so contemptible as the pseudo- 
scientific cant which is talked about the " Baconian 
philosophy." 

To hear people talk about the great Chancellor 
and a very great man he certainly was, you 
would think that it was he who had invented 
science, and that there was no such thing as 
sound reasoning before the time of Queen 
Elizabeth! Of course you say, that cannot 
possibly be true ; you perceive, on a moment's 
reflection, that such an idea is absurdly wrong, 



362 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

and yet, so firmly rooted is this sort of impression, 
I cannot call it an idea, or conception, the 
thing is too absurd to be entertained, but so 
completely does it exist at the bottom of most 
men's minds, that this has been a matter of ob- 
servation with me for many years past. There 
are many men who, though knowing absolutely 
nothing of the subject with which they may be 
dealing, wish, nevertheless, to damage the author 
of some view with which they think fit to disagree. 
What they do, then, is not to go and learn some- 
thing about the subject, which one would naturally 
think the best way of fairly dealing with it ; but 
they abuse the originator of the view they ques- 
tion, in a general manner, and wind up by saying 
that, "After all, you know, the principles and 
method of this author are totally opposed to the- 
canons of the Baconian philosophy." Then every- 
body applauds, as a matter of course, and agrees 
that it must be so. But if you were to stop them 
all in the middle of their applause, you would 
probably find that neither the speaker nor his 
applauders could tell you how or in what way it 
was so ; neither the one nor the other having the 
slightest idea of what they mean when they speak 
of the " Baconian philosophy." 

You will understand, I hope, that I have not 
the slightest desire to join in the outcry against 
either the morals, the intellect, or the great genius 
of Lord Chancellor Bacon. He was undoubtedly 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 363 

a very great man, let people say what they will of 
him ; but notwithstanding all that he did for 
philosophy, it would be entirely wrong to suppose 
that the methods of modern scientific inquiry 
originated with him, or with his age ; they origin- 
ated with the first man, whoever he was ; and 
indeed existed long before him, for many of the 
essential processes of reasoning are exerted by the 
higher order of brutes as completely and effectively 
as by ourselves. We see in many of the brute 
creation the exercise of one, at least, of the same 
powers of reasoning as that which we ourselves 
employ. 

The method of scientific investigation is nothing 
but the expression of the necessary mode of work- 
ing of the human mind. It is simply the mode 
at which all phenomena are reasoned about, ren- 
dered precise and exact. There is no more differ- 
ence, but there is just the same kind of difference, 
between the mental operations of a man of science 
and those of an ordinary person, as there is between 
the operations and methods of a baker or of a 
butcher weighing out his goods in common scales, 
and the operations of a chemist in performing a 
difficult and complex analysis by means of his 
balance and finely-graduated weights. It is not 
that the action of the scales in the one case, and 
the balance in the other, differ in the principles of 
their construction or manner of working ; but the 
beam of one is set on an infinitely finer axis than 



364 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

the other, and of course turns by the addition of 
a much smaller weight. 

You will understand this better, perhaps, if I 
give you some familiar example. You have all 
heard it repeated, I dare say, that men of science 
work by means of induction and deduction, and 
that by the help of these operations, they, in a sort 
of sense, wring from Nature certain other things, 
which are called natural laws, and causes, and 
that out of these, by some cunning skill of their 
own, they build up hypotheses and theories. 
And it is imagined by many, that the operations 
of the common mind can be by no means com- 
pared with these processes, and that they have to 
be acquired by a sort of special apprenticeship to 
the craft. To hear all these large words, you 
would think that the mind of a man of science 
must be constituted differently from that of his 
fellow men ; but if you will not be frightened by 
terms, you will discover that you are quite wrong, 
and that all these terrible apparatus are being 
used by yourselves every day and every hour of 
your lives. 

There is a well-known incident in one of 
Moliere's plays, where the author makes the hero 
express unbounded delight on being told that he 
had been talking prose during the whole of his 
life. In the same way, I trust, that you will take 
comfort, and be delighted with yourselves, on the 
discovery that you have been acting on the prin- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 365 

ciples of inductive and deductive philosophy dur- 
ing the same period. Probably there is not one 
here who has not in the course of the day had 
occasion to set in motion a complex train of reason- 
ing, of the very same kind, though differing of 
course in degree, as that which a scientific man 
goes through in tracing the causes of natural 
phenomena. 

A very trivial circumstance will serve to ex- 
emplify this. Suppose you go into a fruiterer's 
shop, wanting an apple, you take up one, and, 
on biting it, you find it is sour; you look at it, 
and see that it is hard and green. You take 
up another one, and that too is hard, green, 
and sour. The shopman offers you a third ; 
but, before biting it, you examine it, and find 
that it is hard and green, and you immediately 
say that you will not have it, as it must 
be sour, like those that you have already 
tried. 

Nothing can be more simple than that, you 
think ; but if you will take the trouble to analyse 
and trace out into its logical elements what has 
been done by the mind, you will be greatly sur- 
prised. In the first place, you have performed 
the operation of induction. You found that, in 
two experiences, hardness and greenness in apples 
went together with sourness. It was so in the 
first case, and it was confirmed by the second. 
True, it is a very small basis, but still it is enough 



366 THE CAtJSES OF THE xi 

to make an induction from ; you generalise the 
facts, and you expect to find sourness in apples 
where you get hardness and greenness. You found 
upon that a general law, that all hard and green 
apples are sour ; and that, so far as it goes, is a 
perfect induction. Well, having got your natural 
law in this way, when you are offered another 
apple which you find is hard and green, you say, 
" All hard and green apples are sour ; this apple 
is hard and green, therefore this apple is sour." 
That train of reasoning is what logicians call a 
syllogism, and has all its various parts and terms, 
its major premiss, its minor premiss, and its 
conclusion. And, by the help of further reason- 
ing, which, if drawn out, would have to be exhibited 
in two or three other syllogisms, you arrive at your 
final determination, " I will not have that apple." 
So that, you see, you have, in the first place, 
established a law by induction, and upon that you 
have founded a deduction, and reasoned out the 
special conclusion of the particular case. Well 
now, suppose, having got your law, that at some 
time afterwards, you are discussing the qualities 
of apples with a friend : you will say to him, " It is 
a very curious thing, but I find that all hard and 
green apples are sour ! " Your friend says to you, 
" But how do you know that ? " You at once 
reply, " Oh, because I have tried them over and 
over again, and have always found them to be so." 
Well, if we were talking science instead of common 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 367 

sense, we should call that an experimental verifica- 
tion. And, if still opposed, you go further, and 
say, " I have heard from the people in Somerset- 
shire and Devonshire, where a large number of 
apples are grown, that they have observed the 
same thing. It is also found to be the case in 
Normandy, and in North America. In short, I 
find it to be the universal experience of mankind 
wherever attention has been directed to the sub- 
ject." Whereupon, your friend, unless he is a 
very unreasonable man, agrees with you, and is 
convinced that you are quite right in the conclu- 
sion you have drawn. He believes, although per- 
haps he does not know he believes it, that the 
more extensive verifications are, that the more 
frequently experiments have been made, and re- 
sults of the same kind arrived at, that the more 
varied the conditions under which the same results 
are attained, the more certain is the ultimate con- 
clusion, and he disputes the question no further. 
He sees that the experiment has been tried under 
all sorts of conditions, as to time, place, and people, 
with the same result ; and he says with you, 
therefore, that the law you have laid down must 
be a good one, and he must believe it. 

In science we do the same thing ; the philo- 
sopher exercises precisely the same faculties, 
though iu a much more delicate manner. In 
scientific inquiry it becomes a matter of duty to 
expose a supposed law to every possible kind of 



368 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

verification, and to take care, moreover, that this 
is done intentionally, and not left to a mere acci- 
dent, as in the case of the apples. And in science, 
as in common life, our confidence in a law is in 
exact proportion to the absence of variation in 
the result of our experimental verifications. For 
instance, if you let go your grasp of an article 
you may have in your hand, it will immediately 
fall to the ground. That is a very common veri- 
fication of one of the best established laws of 
nature that of gravitation. The method by 
which men of science establish the existence of 
that law is exactly the same as that by which we 
have established the trivial proposition about the 
sourness of hard and green apples. But we believe 
it in such an extensive, thorough, and unhesitat- 
ing manner because the universal experience of 
mankind verifies it, and we can verify it ourselves 
at any time ; and that is the strongest possible 
foundation on which any natural law can rest. 

So much, then, by way of proof that the method 
of establishing laws in science is exactly the same 
as that pursued in common life. Let us now turn 
to another matter (though really it is but another 
phase of the same question), and that is, the 
method by which, from the relations of certain 
phenomena, we prove that some stand in the posi- 
tion of causes towards the others. 

I want to put the case clearly before you, and I 
will therefore show you what I mean by another 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 369 

familiar example. I will suppose that one of you, 
on coming down in the morning to the parlour of 
your house, finds that a tea-pot and some spoons 
which had been left in the room on the previous 
evening are gone, the window is open, and you 
observe the mark of a dirty hand on the window- 
frame, and perhaps, in addition to that, you notice 
the impress of a hob-nailed shoe on the gravel 
outside. All these phenomena have struck your 
attention instantly, and before two seconds have 
passed you say, " Oh, somebody has broken open 
the window, entered the room, and run off with 
the spoons and the tea-pot ! " That speech is out 
of your mouth in a moment. And you will prob- 
ably add, " I know there has ; I am quite sure of 
it ! " You mean to say exactly what you know ; 
but in reality you are giving expression to what 
is, in all essential particulars, an hypothesis. 
You do not know it at all ; it is nothing but an 
hypothesis rapidly framed in your own mind. And 
it is an hypothesis founded on a long train of in- 
ductions and deductions. 

What are those inductions and deductions, and 
how have you got at this hypothesis ? You have 
observed, in the first place, that the window is 
open ; but by a train of reasoning involving many 
inductions and deductions, you have probably 
arrived long before at the general law and a 
very good one it is that windows do not open of 
themselves; and you therefore conclude that 



370 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

something has opened the window. A second 
general law that you have arrived at in the same 
way is, that tea-pots and spoons do not go out of 
a window spontaneously, and you are satisfied that, 
as they are not now where you left them, they 
have been removed. In the third place, you look 
at the marks on the window-sill, and the shoe- 
marks outside, and you say that in all previous 
experience the former kind of mark has never 
been produced by anything else but the hand of a 
human being ; and the same experience shows that 
no other animal but man at present wears shoes 
with hob-nails in them such as would produce the 
marks in the gravel. I do not know, even if we 
could discover any of those " missing links " that 
are talked about, that they would help us to any 
other conclusion ! At any rate the law which 
states our present experience is strong enough for 
my present purpose. You next reach the con- 
clusion, that as these kinds of marks have not been 
left by any other animals than men, or are liable 
to be formed in any other way than by a man's 
hand and shoe, the marks in question have been 
formed by a man in that way. You have, further, 
a general law, founded on observation and experi- 
ence, and that, too, is, I am sorry to say, a very 
universal and unimpeachable one, that some men 
are thieves ; and you assume at once from all these 
premisses and that is what constitutes your 
hypothesis that the man who made the marks 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 371 

outside and on the window-sill, opened the window, 
got into the room, and stole youi tea-pot and 
spoons. You have now arrived at a vera causa ; 
you have assumed a cause which, it is plain, is 
competent to produce all the phenomena you have 
observed. You can explain all these phenomena 
only by the hypothesis of a thief. But that is a 
hypothetical conclusion, of the justice of which 
you have no absolute proof at all ; it is only 
rendered highly probable by a series of inductive 
and deductive reasonings. 

I suppose your first action, assuming that you 
are a man of ordinary common sense, and that 
you have established this hypothesis to your own 
satisfaction, will very likely be to go off for the 
police, and set them on the track of the burglar, 
with the view to the recovery of your property. 
But just as you are starting with this object, some 
person comes in, and on learning what you are 
about, says, " My good friend, you are going on a 
great deal too fast. How do you know that the 
man who really made the marks took the spoons ? 
It might have been a monkey that took them, and 
the man may have merely looked in afterwards." 
You would probably reply, " Well, that is all very 
well, but you see it is contrary to all experience 
of the way tea-pots and spoons are abstracted ; so 
that, at any rate, your hypothesis is less probable 
than mine." While you are talking the thing 
over in this way, another friend arrives, one of 



372 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

that good kind of people that I was talking of a 
little while ago. And he might say, " Oh, my dear 
sir, you are certainly going on a great deal too 
fast. You are most presumptuous. You admit 
that all these occurrences took place when you 
were fast asleep, at a time when you could not 
possibly have known anything about what was 
taking place. How do you know that the laws of 
Nature are not suspended during the night ? It 
may be that there has been some kind of super- 
natural interference in this case." In point of 
fact, he declares that your hypothesis is one of 
which you cannot at all demonstrate the truth, 
and that you are by no means sure that the laws 
of Nature are the same when you are asleep as 
when you are awake. 

Well, now, you cannot at the moment answer 
that kind of reasoning. You feel that your worthy 
friend has you somewhat at a disadvantage. You 
will feel perfectly convinced in your own mind, 
however, that you are quite right, and you say to 
him, " My good friend, I can only be guided by 
the natural probabilities of the case, and if you 
will be kind enough to stand aside and permit me 
to pass, I will go and fetch the police." Well, we 
will suppose that your journey is successful, and 
that by good luck you meet with a policeman ; 
that eventually the burglar is found with your 
property on his person, and the marks correspond 
to his hand and to his boots. Probably any jury 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 373 

would consider those facts a very good experimental 
verification of your hypothesis, touching the cause 
of the abnormal phenomena observed in your 
parlour, and would act accordingly. 

Now, in this suppositions case, I have taken 
phenomena of a very common kind, in order that 
you might see what are the different steps in an 
ordinary process of reasoning, if you will only take 
the trouble to analyse it carefully. All the opera- 
tions I have described, you will see, are involved 
in the mind of any man of sense in leading him 
to a conclusion as to the course he should take in 
order to make good a robbery and punish the 
offender. I say that you are led, in that case, to 
your conclusion by exactly the same train of 
reasoning as that which a man of science pursues 
when he is endeavouring to discover the origin and 
laws of the most occult phenomena. The process 
is, and always must be, the same ; and precisely 
the same mode of reasoning was employed by 
Newton and Laplace in their endeavours to dis- 
cover and cTefine the causes of the movements of 
the heavenly bodies, as you, with your own common 
sense, would employ to detect a burglar. The 
only difference is, that the nature of the inquiry 
being more abstruse, every step has to be most 
carefully watched, so that there may not be a 
single crack or flaw in your hypothesis. A 
flaw or crack in many of the hypotheses of 



374 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

daily life may be of little or no moment as 
affecting the general correctness of the conclusions 
at which we may arrive ; but, in a scientific in- 
quiry, a fallacy, great or small, is always of im- 
portance, and is sure to be in the long run 
constantly productive of mischievous, if not fatal 
results. 

Do not allow yourselves to be misled by the 
common notion that an hypothesis is untrustworthy 
simply because it is an hypothesis. It is often 
urged, in respect to some scientific conclusion, 
that, after all, it is only an hypothesis. But what 
more have we to guide us in nine-tenths of the 
most important affairs of daily life than hypotheses, 
and often very ill-based ones ? So that in science, 
where the evidence of an hypothesis is subjected 
to the most rigid examination, we may rightly 
pursue the same course. You may have hypo- 
theses and hypotheses. A man may say, if he 
likes, that the moon is made of green cheese : 
that is an hypothesis. But another man, who has 
devoted a great deal of time and attention to the 
subject, and availed himself of the most powerful 
telescopes and the results of the observations of 
others, declares that in his opinion it is probably 
composed of materials very similar to those of 
which our own earth is made up : and that is also 
only an hypothesis. But I need not tell you that 
there is an enormous difference in the value of the 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 375 

two hypotheses. That one which is based on 
sound scientific knowledge is sure to have a corre- 
sponding value ; and that which is a mere hasty 
random guess is likely to have but little value. 
Every great step in our progress in discovering 
causes has been made in exactly the same way as 
that which I have detailed to you. A person 
observing the occurrence of certain facts and 
phenomena asks, naturally enough, what process, 
what kind of operation known to occur in Nattrre 
applied to the particular case, will unravel and 
explain the mystery ? Hence you have the 
scientific hypothesis; and its value will be pro- 
portionate to the care and completeness with which 
its basis had been tested and verified. It is in 
these matters as in the commonest affairs of prac- 
tical life : the guess of the fool will be folly, while 
the guess of the wise man will contain wisdom. 
In all case, you see that the value of the result 
depends on the patience and faithfulness with 
which the investigator applies to his hypothesis 
every possible kind of verification. 

I dare say I may have to return to this point 
by and by ; but having dealt thus far with our 
logical methods, I must now turn to something 
which, perhaps, you may consider more interesting, 
or, at any rate, more tangible. But in reality 
there are but few things that can be more import- 
ant for you to understand than the mental pro- 
cesses and the means by which we obtain scientific 
53 



376 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

conclusions and theories. 1 Having granted that 
the inquiry is a proper one, and having determined 
on the nature of the methods we are to pursue 
and which only can lead to success, I must now 
turn to the consideration of our knowledge of the 
nature of the processes which have resulted in the 
present condition of organic nature. 

Here, let me say at once, lest some of you mis- 
understand me, that I have extremely little to 
report. The question of how the present condition 
of organic nature came about, resolves itself into 
two questions. The first is : How has organic or 
living matter commenced its existence ? And the 
second is : How has it been perpetuated ? On the 
second question I shall have more to say hereafter. 
But on the first one, what I now have to say will 
be for the most part of a negative character. 

If you consider what kind of evidence we can 
have upon this matter, it will resolve^ itself into 
two kinds. We may have historical evidence and we 
may have experimental evidence. It is, for example, 
conceivable, that inasmuch as the hardened mud 
which forms a considerable portion of the thick- 
ness of the earth's crust contains faithful records 
of the past forms of life, and inasmuch as these 
differ more and more as we go further down, it 
is possible and conceivable that we might come to 

1 Those who wish to study fully the doctrines of which I 
have endeavoured to give some rough-and-ready illustrations, 
must read Mr. John Stuart Mill's System of Logic. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 377 

some particular bed or stratum which should con- 
tain the remains of those creatures with which 
organic life began upon the earth. And if we did 
so, and if such forms of organic life were pre- 
servable, we should have what I would call his- 
torical evidence of the mode in which organic life 
began upon this planet. Many persons will tell 
you, and indeed you will find it stated in many 
works on geology, that this has been done, and 
that we really possess such a record ; there are 
some who imagine that the earliest forms of life 
of which we have as yet discovered any record, are 
in truth the forms in which animal life began upon 
the globe. The grounds on which they base that 
supposition are these : That if you go through 
the enormous thickness of the earth's crust and 
get down to the older rocks, the higher vertebrate 
animals the quadrupeds, birds, and fishes cease 
to be found ; beneath them you find only the in- 
vertebrate animals ; and in the deepest and lowest 
rocks those remains become scantier and scantier, 
not in any very gradual progression, however, 
until, at length, in what are supposed to be the 
oldest rocks, the animal remains which are found 
are almost always confined to four forms Oldhamia, 
whose precise nature is not known, whether plant 
or animal ; Lingula, a kind of mollusc ; Trilobites, 
a crustacean animal, having the same essential 
plan of construction, though differing in many 
details from a lobster or crab ; and ffymenocaris, 



378 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

which is also a crustacean. So that you have all 
the Fauna reduced, at this period, to four forms : 
one a kind of animal or plant that we know no- 
thing about, and three undoubted animals two 
crustaceans and one mollusc. 

I think, considering the organisation of these 
mollusca and Crustacea, and looking at their very 
complex nature, that it does indeed require a very 
strong imagination to conceive that these were the 
first created of all living things. And you must 
take into consideration the fact that we have not 
the slightest proof that these which we call the 
oldest beds are really so : I repeat, we have not 
the slightest proof of it. When you find in some 
places that in an enormous thickness of rocks 
there are but very scanty traces of life, or abso- 
lutely none at all ; and that in other parts of the 
world rocks of the very same formation are 
crowded with the records of living forms, I think 
it is impossible to place any reliance on the sup- 
position, or to feel one's self justified in supposing 
that these are the forms in which life first com- 
menced. I have not time here to enter upon the 
technical grounds upon which I am led to this 
conclusion, that could hardly be done properly 
in half a dozen lectures on that part alone : I 
must content myself with saying that I do not 
at all believe that these are the oldest forms 
of life. 

I turn to the experimental side to see what 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 379 

evidence we have there. To enable us to say that 
we know anything about the experimental origin- 
ation of organisation and life, the investigator 
ought to be able to take inorganic matters, such 
as carbonic acid, ammonia, water, and salines, in 
any sort of inorganic combination, and be able to 
build them up into protein matter, and then that 
protein matter ought to begin to live in an 
organic form. That, nobody has done as yet, and 
I suspect it will be a long while before anybody 
does do it. But the thing is by no means so 
impossible as it looks ; for the researches of modern 
chemistry have shown us I won't say the road 
towards it, but, if I may so say, they have shown 
the finger-post pointing to the road that may lead 
to it. 

It is not many years ago and you must recol- 
lect that Organic Chemistry is a young science, 
not above a couple of generations old, you must 
not expect too much of it, it is not many years 
ago since it was said to be perfectly impossible to 
fabricate any organic compound ; that is to say, 
any non-mineral compound which is to be found 
in an organised being. It remained so for a very 
long period ; but it is now a considerable number 
of years since a distinguished foreign chemist con- 
trived to fabricate urea, a substance of a very 
complex character, which forms one of the waste 
products of animal structures. And of late years 
a number of other compounds, such as butyric 



380 . THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

acid, and others, have been added to the list. I 
need not tell you that chemistry is an enormous 
distance from the goal I indicate ; all I wish to 
point out to you is, that it is by no means safe 
to say that that goal may not be reached one 
day. It may be that it is impossible for us 
to produce the conditions requisite to the origina- 
tion of life ; but we must speak modestly about 
the matter, and recollect that Science has put her 
foot upon the bottom round of the ladder. Truly 
he would be a bold man who would venture to 
predict where she will be fifty years hence. 

There is another inquiry which bears indirectly 
upon this question, and upon which I must say a 
few words. You are all of you aware of the 
phenomena of what is called spontaneous genera- 
tion. Our forefathers, down to the seventeenth 
century, or thereabouts, all imagined, in perfectly 
good faith, that certain vegetable and animal 
forms gave birth, in the process of their decom- 
position, to insect life. Thus, if you put a piece 
of meat in the sun, and allowed it to putrefy, they 
conceived that the grubs which soon began to 
appear were the result of the action of a power of 
spontaneous generation which the meat contained. 
And they could give you receipts for making 
various animal and vegetable preparations which 
would produce particular kinds of animals. A 
very distinguished Italian naturalist, named Redi, 
took up the question, at a time when everybody 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 381 

believed in it ; among others our own great Harvey, 
the discoverer of the circulation of the blood. 
You will constantly find his name quoted, how- 
ever, as an opponent of the doctrine of spontaneous 
generation ; but the fact is, and you will see it if 
you will take the trouble to look into his works, 
Harvey believed it as profoundly as any man of 
his time ; but he happened to enunciate a very 
curious proposition that every living thing came 
from an egg ; he did not mean to use the word in 
the sense in which we now employ it, he only 
meant to say that every living thing originated in 
a little rounded particle of organised substance ; 
and it is from this circumstance, probably, that 
the notion of Harvey having opposed the doctrine 
originated. Then came Redi, and he proceeded 
to upset the doctrine in a very simple manner. 
He merely covered the piece of meat with some 
very fine gauze, and then he exposed it to the 
same conditions. The result of this was that no 
grubs or insects were produced ; he proved that 
the grubs originated from the insects who came 
and deposited their eggs in the meat, and that 
they were hatched by the heat of the sun. By 
this kind of inquiry he thoroughly upset the 
doctrine of spontaneous generation, for his time 
at least. 

Then came the discovery and application of the 
microscope to scientific inquiries, which showed to 
naturalists that besides the organisms which they 



382 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

already knew as living beings and plants, there 
were an immense number of minute things which 
could be obtained apparently almost at will from 
decaying vegetable and animal forms. Thus, if 
you took some ordinary black pepper or some hay, 
and steeped it in water, you would find in the course 
of a few days that the water had become impreg- 
nated with an immense number of animalcules 
swimming about in all directions. From facts of 
this kind naturalists were led to revive the theory 
of spontaneous generation. They were headed 
here by an English naturalist, Needham, and 
afterwards in France by the learned Buffon. They 
said that these things were absolutely begotten 
in the water of the decaying substances out of 
which the infusion was made. It did not matter 
whether you took animal or vegetable matter, you 
had only to steep it in water and expose it, and 
you would soon have plenty of animalcules. They 
made an hypothesis about this which was a very 
fair one. They said, this matter of the animal 
world, or of the higher plants, appears to be dead, 
but in reality it has a sort of dim life about it, 
which, if it is placed under fair conditions, will 
cause it to break up into the forms of these little 
animalcules, and they will go through their lives 
in the same way as the animal or plant of which 
they once formed a part. 

The question now became very hotly debated. 
Spallanzani, an Italian naturalist, took up opposite 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 383 

views to those of Needham and Buffon, and by 
means of certain experiments he showed that it 
was quite possible to stop the process by boiling 
the water, and closing the vessel in which it was 
contained. " Oh ! " said his opponents ; " but what 
do you know you may be doing when you heat the 
air over the water in this way ? You may be de- 
stroying some property of the air requisite for the 
spontaneous generation of the animalcules." 

However, Spallanzani's views were supposed to 
be upon the right side, and those of the others fell 
into discredit ; although the fact was that Spallan- 
zani had not made good his views. Well, then, 
the subject continued to be revived from time to 
time, and experiments were made by several per- 
sons ; but these experiments were not altogether 
satisfactory. It was found that if you put an in- 
fusion in which animalcules would appear if it were 
exposed to the air into a vessel and boiled it, and 
then sealed up the mouth of the vessel, so that no 
air, save such as had been heated to 212, could 
reach its contents, that then no animalcules would 
be found ; but if you took the same vessel and ex- 
posed the infusion to the air, then you would get 
animalcules. Furthermore, it was found that if 
you connected the mouth of the vessel with a red- 
hot tube in such a way that the air would have to 
pass through the tube before reaching the infusion, 
that then you would get no animalcules. Yet 
another thing was noticed : if you took two flasks 



384 THE CAUSES OF THE ZI 

containing the same kind of infusion, and left one 
entirely exposed to the air, and in the mouth of 
the other placed a ball of cotton wool, so that the 
air would have to filter itself through it before 
reaching the infusion, that then, although you 
might have plenty of animalcules in the first flask, 
you would certainly obtain none from the second. 

These experiments, you see, all tended towards 
one conclusion that the infusoria were developed 
from little minute spores or eggs which were con- 
stantly floating in the atmosphere, and which lose 
their power of germination if subjected to heat. 
But one observer now made another experiment, 
which seemed to go entirely the other way, and 
puzzled him altogether. He took some of this 
boiled infusion that I have been speaking of, and 
by the use of a mercurial bath a kind of trough 
used in laboratories he deftly inverted a vessel 
containing the infusion into the mercury, so that 
the latter reached a little beyond the level of the 
mouth of the inverted vessel. You see that he 
thus had a quantity of the infusion shut off from 
any possible communication with the outer air by 
being inverted upon a bed of mercury. 

He then prepared some pure oxygen and nitro- 
gen gases, and passed them by means of a tube 
going from the outside of the vessel, up through 
the mercury into the infusion ; so that he thus 
had it exposed to a perfectly pure atmosphere of 
the same constituents as the external air. Of 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 385 

course, he expected he would get no infusorial 
animalcules at all in that infusion ; but, to his 
great dismay and discomfiture, he found he almost 
always did get them. 

Furthermore, it has been found that experi- 
ments made in the manner described above answer 
well with most infusions ; but that if you fill the 
vessel with boiled milk, and then stop the neck 
with cotton-wool, you will have infusoria. So that 
you see there were two experiments that brought 
you to one kind of conclusion, and three to an- 
other ; which was a most unsatisfactory state of 
things to arrive at in a scientific inquiry. 

Some few years after this, the question began 
to be very hotly discussed in France. There was 
M. Pouchet, a professor at Rouen, a very learned 
man, but certainly not a very rigid experimental- 
ist. He published a number of experiments of his 
own, some of which were very ingenious, to show 
that if you went to work in a proper way, there 
was a truth in the doctrine of spontaneous genera- 
tion. Well, it was one of the most fortunate things 
in the world that M. Pouchet took up this question, 
because it induced a distinguished French chemist, 
M. Pasteur, to take up the question on the other 
side ; and he has certainly worked it out in the 
most perfect manner. I am glad to say, too, that 
he has published his researches in time to enable 
me to give you an account of them. He verified 
all the experiments which I have just mentioned 



386 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

to you and then finding those extraordinary 
anomalies, as in the case of the mercury bath and 
the milk, he set himself to work to discover their 
nature. In the case of milk he found it to be a 
question of temperature. Milk in a fresh state is 
slightly alkaline ; and it is a very curious circum- 
stance, but this very slight degree of alkalinity 
seems to have the effect of preserving the organ- 
isms which fall into it from the air from being 
destroyed at a temperature of 212, which is the 
boiling point. But if you raise the temperature 
10 when you boil it, the milk behaves like every- 
thing else ; and if the air with which it comes in 
contact, after being boiled at this temperature, is 
passed through a red-hot tube, you will not get a 
trace of organisms. 

He then turned his attention to the mercury 
bath, and found on examination that the surface of 
the mercury was almost always covered with a 
very fine dust. He found that even the mercury 
itself was positively full of organic matters ; that 
from being constantly exposed to the air, it had 
collected an immense number of these infusorial 
organisms from the air. Well, under these circum- 
stances he felt that the case was quite clear, and 
that the mercury was not what it had appeared to 
M. Schwann to be, a bar to the admission of these 
organisms ; but that, in reality, it acted as a reservoir 
from which the infusion was immediately supplied 
with the large quantity that had so puzzled him. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 387 

But not content with explaining the experiments 
of others, M. Pasteur went to work to satisfy himself 
completely. He said to himself : " If my view is 
right, and if, in point of fact, all these appearances 
of spontaneous generation are altogether due to the 
falling of minute germs suspended in the atmo- 
sphere, why, I ought not only to be able to show 
the germs, but I ought to be able to catch 
and sow them, and produce the resulting organ- 
isms." He, accordingly, constructed a very in- 
genious apparatus to enable him to accomplish the 
trapping of the " germ dust " in the air. He fixed 
in the window of his room a glass tube, in the 
centre of which he had placed a ball of gun-cotton, 
which, as you all know, is ordinary cotton-wool, 
which, from having been steeped in strong acid, is 
converted into a substance of great explosive power. 
It is also soluble in alcohol and ether. One end 
of the glass tube was, of course, open to the ex- 
ternal air ; and at the other end of it he placed an 
aspirator, a contrivance for causing a current of 
the external air to pass through the tube. He 
kept this apparatus going for four-and-twenty 
hours, and then removed the dusted gun-cotton, 
and dissolved it in alcohol and ether. He then 
allowed this to stand for a few hours, and the re- 
sult was, that a very fine dust was gradually de- 
posited at the bottom of it. That dust, on being 
transferred to the stage of a microscope, was found 
to contain an enormous number of starch grains. 



388 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

You know that the materials of our food and the 
greater portion of plants are composed of starch, 
and we are constantly making use of it in a variety 
of ways, so that there is always a quantity of it 
suspended in the air. It is these starch grains 
which form many of those bright specks that we 
see dancing in a ray of light sometimes. But be- 
sides these, M. Pasteur found also an immense 
number of other organic substances such as spores 
of fungi, which had been floating about in the air 
and had got caged in this way. 

He went farther, and said to himself, " If these 
really are the things that give rise to the appear- 
ance of spontaneous generation, I ought to be able 
to take a ball of this dusted gun-cotton and put it 
into one of my vessels, containing that boiled in- 
fusion which has been kept away from the air, and 
in which no infusoria are at present developed, and 
then, if I am right, the introduction of this gun- 
cotton will give rise to organisms." 

Accordingly, he took one of these vessels of in- 
fusion, which had been kept eighteen months, 
without the least appearance of life in it, and by a 
most ingenious contrivance, he managed to break 
it open and introduce such a ball of gun-cotton, 
without allowing the infusion or the cotton ball to 
come into contact with any air but that which had 
been subjected to a red heat, and in twenty-four 
hours he had the satisfaction of finding all the in- 
dications of what had been hitherto called spon- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 389 

taneous generation. He had succeeded in catching 
the germs and developing organisms in the way 
he had anticipated. 

It now struck him that the truth of his conclu- 
sions might be demonstrated without all the appa- 
ratus he had employed. To do this, he took some 
decaying animal or vegetable substance, such as 
urine, which is an extremely decomposable sub- 
stance, or the juice of yeast,' or perhaps some other 
artificial preparation, and filled a vessel having a 
long tubular neck with it. He then boiled the 
liquid and bent that long neck into an S shape or 
zig-zag, leaving it open at the end. The infusion 
then gave no trace of any appearance of spontaneous 
generation, however long it might be left, as all 
the germs in the air were deposited in the begin- 
ning of the bent neck. He then cut the tube close 
to the vessel, and allowed the ordinary air to have 
free and direct access ; and the result of that was 
the appearance of organisms in it, as soon as the 
infusion had been allowed to stand long enough to 
allow of the growth of those it received from the 
air, which was about forty-eight hours. The re- 
sult of M. Pasteur's experiments proved, therefore, 
in the most conclusive manner, that all the appear- 
ances of spontaneous generation arose from nothing 
more than the deposition of the germs of organisms 
which were constantly floating in the air. 

To this conclusion, however, the objection was 
made, that if that were the cause, then the air 



390 PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE xi 

would contain such an enormous number of these 
germs, that it would be a continual fog. But M. 
Pasteur replied that they are not there in any- 
thing like the number Ave might suppose, and that 
an exaggerated view has been held on that subject; 
he showed that the chances of animal or vegetable 
life appearing in infusions, depend entirely on the 
conditions under which they are exposed. If they 
are exposed to the ordinary atmosphere around 
us, why, of course, you may have organisms ap- 
pearing early. But, on the other hand, if they are 
exposed to air at a great height, or in some very 
quiet cellar, you will often not find a single trace 
of life. 

So that M. Pasteur arrived at last at the clear 
and definite result, that all these appearances are 
like the case of the worms in the piece of meat, 
which was refuted by Redi, simply germs carried 
by the air and deposited in the liquids in which 
they afterwards appear. For my own part, I con- 
ceive that, with the particulars of M. Pasteur's ex- 
periments before us, we cannot fail to arrive at his 
conclusions ; and that the doctrine of spontaneous 
generation has received a final coup de grdce. 

You, of course, understand that all this in no 
way interferes with the possibility of the fabrica- 
tion of organic matters by the direct method to 
which I have referred, remote as that possibility 
may be. 



IV 



THE PERPETUATION OF LIVING BEINGS, HEREDI- 
TARY TRANSMISSION AND VARIATION. 

THE inquiry which we undertook, at our last 
meeting, into the state of our knowledge of the 
causes of the phenomena of organic nature, of 
the past and of the present, resolved itself into 
two subsidiary inquiries : the first was, whether we 
know anything, either historically or experimen- 
tally, of the mode of origin of living beings; the 
second subsidiary inquiry was, whether, granting 
the origin, we know anything about the perpetua- 
tion and modifications of the forms of organic beings. 
The reply which I had to give to the first question 
was altogether negative, and the chief result of my 
last lecture was, that, neither historically nor ex- 
perimentally, do we at present know anything 
whatsoever about the origin of living forms. We 
saw that, historically, we are not likely to know 
anything about it, although we may perhaps learn 
something experimentally ; but that at present we 
are an enormous distance from the goal I indicated. 

54 



392 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

I now, then, take up the next question, What 
do we know of the reproduction, the perpetuation, 
and the modifications of the forms of living beings, 
supposing that we have put the question as to their 
origination on one side, and have assumed that at 
present the causes of their origination are beyond 
us, and that we know nothing about them ? Upon 
this question the state of our knowledge is ex- 
tremely different ; it is exceedingly large : and, if 
not complete, our experience is certainly most ex- 
tensive. It would be impossible to lay it all before 
you, and the most I can do, or need do to-night, is 
to take up the principal points and put them be- 
fore you with such prominence as may subserve 
the purposes of our present argument. 

The method of the perpetuation of organic beings 
is of two kinds, the non-sexual and the sexual. In 
the first the perpetuation takes place from and by 
a particular act of an individual organism, which 
sometimes may not be classed as belonging to any 
sex at all. In the second case, it is in con- 
sequence of the mutual action and interaction of 
certain portions of the organisms of usually two 
distinct individuals, the male and the female. The 
cases of non-sexual perpetuation are by no means 
so common as the cases of sexual perpetuation ; 
and they are by no means so common in the animal 
as in the vegetable world. You are all probably 
familiar with the fact, as a matter of experience, 
that you can propagate plants by means of what 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 393 

are called " cuttings " ; for example, that by tak- 
ing a cutting from a geranium plant, and rearing 
it properly, by supplying it with light and warmth 
and nourishment from the earth, it grows up and 
takes the form of its parent, having all the pro- 
perties and peculiarities of the original plant. 

Sometimes this process, which the gardener per- 
forms artificially, takes place naturally ; that is to 
say, a little bulb, or portion of the plant, detaches 
itself, drops off, and becomes capable of growing 
as a separate thing. That is the case with many 
bulbous plants, which throw off in this way second- 
ary bulbs, which are lodged in the ground and 
become developed into plants. This is a non-sexual 
process, and from it results the repetition or re- 
production of the form of the original being from 
which the bulb proceeds. 

Among animals the same thing takes place. 
Among the lower forms of animal life, the infusorial 
animalculae we have already spoken of throw off 
certain portions, or break themselves up in various 
directions, sometimes transversely or sometimes 
longitudinally ; or they may give off buds, which 
detach themselves and develop into their proper 
forms. There is the common fresh-water polype, 
for instance, which multiplies itself in this way. 
Just in the same way as the gardener is able to 
multiply and reproduce the peculiarities and char- 
acters of particular plants by means of cuttings, 
so can the physiological experimentalist as was 



394 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

shown by the Abb4 Trembley many years ago so 
can he do the same thing with many of the lower 
forms of animal life. M. de Trembley showed 
that you could take a polype and cut it into two, 
or four, or many pieces, mutilating it in all direc- 
tions, and the pieces would still grow up and re- 
produce completely the original form of the animal. 
These are all cases of non-sexual multiplication, 
and there are other instances, and still more extra- 
ordinary ones, in which this process takes place 
naturally, in a more hidden, a more recondite kind 
of way. You are all of you familiar with that 
little green insect, the Aphis or blight, as it is 
called. These little animals, during a very con- 
siderable part of their existence, multiply them- 
selves by means of a kind of internal budding, the 
buds being developed into essentially non-sexual 
animals, which are neither male nor female ; they 
become converted into young Aphides, which re- 
peat the process, and their offspring after them, 
and so on again ; you may go on for nine or ten, 
or even twenty or more successions ; and there is no 
very good reason to say how soon it might terminate, 
or how long it might not go on if the proper con- 
ditions of warmth and nourishment were kept up. 
Sexual reproduction is quite a distinct matter. 
Here, in all these cases, what is required is the 
detachment of two portions of the parental 
organisms, which portions we know as the egg 
or the spermatozoon. In plants it is the ovule 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 395 

and the pollen-grain, as in the flowering plants, or 
the ovule and the antherozooid, as in the flower- 
less. Among all forms of animal life, the sperma- 
tozoa proceed from the male sex, and the egg is 
the product of the female. Now, what is remark- 
able about this mode of reproduction is this, that 
the egg by itself, or the spermatozoa by themselves, 
are unable to assume the parental form ; but if 
they be brought into contact with one another, 
the effect of the mixture of organic substances 
proceeding from two sources appears to confer an 
altogether new vigour to the mixed product. This 
process is brought about, as we all know, by the 
sexual intercourse of the two sexes, and is called 
the act of impregnation. The result of this act 
on the part of the male and female is, that the 
formation of a new being is set up in the ovule or 
egg ; this ovule or egg soon begins to be divided 
and subdivided, and to be fashioned into various 
complex organs, and eventually to develop into 
the form of one of its parents, as I explained in 
the first lecture. These are the processes by 
which the perpetuation of organic beings is secured. 
Why there should be the two modes why this 
re-invigoration should be required on the part of 
the female element we do not know ; but it is most 
assuredly the fact, and it is presumable, that, how- 
ever long the process of non-sexual multiplication 
could be continued I say there is good reason to 
believe that it would come to an end if a new 



396 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

commencement were not obtained by a conjunc- 
tion of the two sexual elements. 

That character which is common to these two 
distinct processes is this, that, whether we con- 
sider the reproduction, or perpetuation, or modifica- 
tion of organic beings as they take place non-sexu- 
ally, or as they may take place sexually in either 
case, I say, the offspring has a constant tendency 
to assume, speaking generally, the character of 
the parent. As I said just now, if you take a slip 
of a plant, and tend it with care, it will eventually 
grow up and develop into a plant like that from 
which it had sprung; and this tendency is so 
strong that, as gardeners know, this mode of 
multiplying by means of cuttings is the only secure 
mode of propagating very many varieties of plants ; 
the peculiarity of the primitive stock seems to be 
better preserved if you propagate it by means of a 
slip than if you resort to the sexual mode. 

Again, in experiments upon the lower animals, 
such as the polype, to which I have referred, it is 
most extraordinary that, although cut up into 
various pieces, each particular piece will grow up 
into the form of the primitive stock ; the head, if 
separated, will reproduce the body and the tail; 
and if you cut off the tail, you will find that that 
will reproduce the body and all the rest of the 
members, without in any way deviating from the 
plan of the organism from which these portions 
have been detached. And so far does this go, that 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 397 

some experimentalists have carefully examined the 
lower orders of animals, among them the Abbe* 
Spallanzani, who made a number of experiments 
upon snails and salamanders, and have found 
that they might mutilate them to an incredible 
extent ; that you might cut off the jaw or the 
greater part of the head, or the leg or the tail, and 
repeat the experiment several times, perhaps cut- 
ting off the same member again and again ; and 
yet each of those types would be reproduced 
according to the primitive type : Nature making 
no mistake, never putting on a fresh kind of leg, 
or head, or tail, but always tending to repeat and 
to return to the primitive type. 

It is the same in sexual reproduction : it is a 
matter of perfectly common experience, that the 
tendency on the part of the offspring always is, 
speaking broadly, to reproduce the form of the 
parents. The proverb has it that the thistle does 
not bring forth grapes ; so, among ourselves, there 
is always a likeness, more or less marked and dis- 
tinct, between children and their parents. That is 
a matter of familiar and ordinary observation. We 
notice the same thing occurring in the cases of the 
domestic animals dogs, for instance, and their 
offspring. In all these cases of propagation and 
perpetuation, there seems to be a tendency in the 
offspring to take the characters of the parental 
organisms. To that tendency a special name is given 
and as I may very often use it, I will write it 



398 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

up here on this black-board that you may remem- 
ber it it is called Atavism ; it expresses this 
tendency to revert to the ancestral type, and comes 
from the Latin word atavus, ancestor. 

Well, this Atavism which I shall speak of, is, as 
I said before, one of the most marked and striking 
tendencies of organic beings; but, side by side 
with this hereditary tendency there is an equally 
distinct and remarkable tendency to variation. 
The tendency to reproduce the original stock has, 
as it were, its limits, and side by side with it there 
is a tendency to vary in certain directions, as if 
there were two opposing powers working upon the 
organic being, one tending to take it in a straight 
line, and the other tending to make it diverge 
from that straight line, first to one side and then 
to the other. 

So that you see these two tendencies need not 
precisely contradict one another, as the ultimate 
result may not always be very remote from what 
would have been the case if the line had been quite 
straight. 

This tendency to variation is less marked in that 
mode of propagation which takes place non-sexu- 
ally ; it is in that mode that the minor characters of 
animal and vegetable structures are most com- 
pletely preserved. Still, it will happen sometimes, 
that the gardener, when he has planted a cutting 
of some favourite plant, will find, contrary to his 
expectation, that the slip grows up a little different 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 399 

from the primitive stock that it produces flowers 
of a different colour or make, or some deviation 
in one way or another. This is what is called the 
" sporting " of plants. 

In animals the phenomena of non-sexual pro- 
pagation are so obscure, that at present we cannot 
be said to know much about them ; but if we turn to 
that mode of perpetuation which results from the 
sexual process, then we find variation a perfectly 
constant occurrence, to a certain extent ; and, in- 
deed, I think that a certain amount of variation 
from the primitive stock is the necessary result of 
the method of sexual propagation itself; for. inas- 
much as the thing propagated proceeds from two 
organisms of different sexes and different makes 
and temperaments, and as the offspring is to be 
either of one sex or the other, it is quite clear that 
it cannot be an exact diagonal of the two, or it 
would be of no sex at all ; it cannot be an exact 
intermediate form between that of each of its 
parents it must deviate to one side or the other. 
You do not find that the male follows the precise 
type of the male parent, nor does the female al- 
ways inherit the precise characteristics of the 
mother, there is always a proportion of the female 
character in the male offspring, and of the male 
character in the female offspring. That must be quite 
plain to all of you who have looked atall attentively 
on your own children or those of your neighbours ; 
you will have noticed how very often it may hap- 



400 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

pen that the son shall exhibit the maternal type 
of character, or the daughter possess the character- 
istics of the father's family. There are all sorts of 
intermixtures and intermediate conditions between 
the two, where complexion, or beauty, or fifty other 
different peculiarities belonging to either side of 
the house, are reproduced in other members of the 
same family. Indeed, it is sometimes to be re- 
marked in this kind of variation, that the variety 
belongs, strictly speaking, to neither of the im- 
mediate parents ; you will see a child in a family 
who is not like either its father or its mother ; but 
some old person who knew its grandfather or 
grandmother, or, it may be, an uncle, or, perhaps, 
even a more distant relative will see a great 
similarity between the child and one of these. In 
this way it constantly happens that the character- 
istic of some previous member of the family comes 
out and is reproduced and recognised in the most 
unexpected manner. 

But apart from that matter of general experience, 
there are some cases which put that curious mix- 
ture in a very clear light. You are aware that the 
offspring of the ass and the horse, or rather of the 
he-ass and the mare, is what is called a mule ; and, 
on the other hand, the offspring of the stallion 
and the she-ass is what is called a hinny. It is 
a very rare thing in this country to see a hinny. 
I never saw one myself; but they have been very 
carefully studied. Now, the curious thing is this, 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 401 

that although you have the same elements in the 
experiment in each case, the offspring is entirely 
different in character, according as the male influ- 
ence comes from the ass or the horse. Where the 
ass is the male, as in the case of the mule, you 
find that the head is like that of the ass, that the 
ears are long, the tail is tufted at the end, the feet 
are small, and the voice is an unmistakable bray ; 
these are all points of similarity to the ass ; but, 
on the other hand, the barrel of the body and the 
cut of the neck are much more like those of the 
mare. Then, if you look at the hinny, the result 
of the union of the stallion and the she-ass, then 
you find it is the horse that has the predominance ; 
that the head is more like that of the horse, the 
ears are shorter, the legs coarser, an4 the type is 
altogether altered ; while the voice, instead of being 
a bray, is the ordinary neigh of the horse. Here, 
you see, is a most curious thing : you take exactly 
the same elements, ass and horse, but you combine 
the sexes in a different manner, and the result is 
modified accordingly. You have in this case, how- 
ever, a result which is not general and universal 
there is usually an important preponderance, but 
not always on the same side. 

Here, then, is one intelligible, and, perhaps, 
necessary cause of variation : the fact, that there 
are two sexes sharing in the production of the off- 
spring, and that the share taken by each is differ- 
ent and variable, not only for each combination, 



402 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

but also for different members of the same 
family. 

Secondly, there is a variation, to a certain ex- 
tent though, in all probability, the influence of 
this cause has been very much exaggerated but 
there is no doubt that variation is produced, to a 
certain extent, by what are commonly known as 
external conditions, such as temperature, food, 
warmth, and moisture. In the long run, every 
variation depends, in some sense, upon external 
conditions, seeing that everything has a cause of 
its own. I use the term " external conditions " 
now in the sense in which it is ordinarily em- 
ployed : certain it is, that external conditions have 
a definite effect. You may take a plant which has 
single flowess, and by dealing with the soil, and 
nourishment, and so on, you may by and by con- 
vert single flowers into double flowers, and make 
thorns shoot out into branches. You may thicken 
or make various modifications in the shape of the 
fruit. In animals, too, you may produce analogous 
changes in this way, as in the case of that deep 
bronze colour which persons rarely lose after 
having passed any length of time in tropical coun- 
tries. You may also alter the development of the 
muscles very much, by dint of training ; all the 
world knows that exercise has a great effect in this 
way ; we always expect to find the arm of a black- 
smith hard and wiry, and possessing a large 
development of the brachial muscles. No doubt 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 403 

training, which is one of the forms of external 
conditions, converts what are originally only in- 
structions, teachings, into habits, or, in other 
words, into organisations, to a great extent; but 
this second cause of variation cannot be considered 
to be by any means a large one. The third cause 
that I have to mention, however, is a very exten- 
sive one. It is one that, for want of a better 
name, has been called " spontaneous variation " ; 
which means that when we do not know anything 
about the cause of phenomena, we call it spon- 
taneous. In the orderly chain of causes and 
effects in this world, there are very few things of 
which it can be said with truth that they are 
spontaneous. Certainly not in these physical 
matters in these there is nothing of the kind 
everything depends on previous conditions. But 
when we cannot trace the cause of phenomena, 
we call them spontaneous. 

Of these variations, multitudinous as they are, 
but little is known with perfect accuracy. I will 
mention to you some two or three cases, because 
they are very remarkable in themselves, and also 
because I shall want to use them afterwards. 
Reaumur, a famous French naturalist, a great 
many years ago, in an essay which he wrote upon 
the art of hatching chickens which was indeed a 
very curious essay had occasion to speak of 
variations and monstrosities. One very remark- 
able case had come under his notice of a variation 



404 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

in the form of a human member, in the person 
of a Maltese, of the name of Gratio Kelleia, who 
was born with six fingers upon each hand, and the 
like number of toes to each of his feet. That 
was a case of spontaneous variation. Nobody 
knows why he was born with that number of 
fingers and toes, and as we don't know, we call it 
a case of " spontaneous " variation. There is 
another remarkable case also. I select these, 
because they happen to have been observed and 
noted very carefully at the time. It frequently 
happens that a variation occurs, but the persons 
who notice it do not take any care in noting down 
the particulars, until at length, when inquiries 
come to be made, the exact circumstances are 
forgotten; and hence, multitudinous as may be 
such " spontaneous " variations, it is exceedingly 
difficult to get at the origin of them. 

The second case is one of which you may find 
the whole details in the " Philosophical Transac- 
tions " for the year 1813, in a paper communicated 
by Colonel Humphrey to the President of the 
Royal Society " On a new Variety in the Breed 
of Sheep," giving an account of a very remarkable 
breed of sheep, which at one time was well known 
in the northern states of America, and which 
went by the name of the Ancon or the Otter 
breed of sheep. In the year 1791, there was a 
farmer of the name of Seth Wright in Massa- 
chusetts, who had a flock of sheep, consisting of a 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 405 

ram and, I think, of some twelve or thirteen ewes. 
Of this flock of ewes, one at the breeding-time 
bore a lamb which was very singularly formed ; it 
had a very long body, very short legs, and those 
legs were bowed. I will tell you by and by how 
this singular variation in the breed of sheep came 
to be noted, and to have the prominence that it 
now has. For the present, I mention only these 
two cases ; but the extent of variation in the breed 
of animals is perfectly obvious to any one who has 
studied natural history with ordinary attention, or 
to any person who compares animals with others 
of the same kind. It is strictly true that there 
are never any two specimens which are exactly 
alike ; however similar, they will always differ in 
some certain particular. 

Now let us go back to Atavism to the here- 
ditary tendency I spoke of. What will come of a 
variation when you breed from it, when Atavism 
comes, if I may say so, to intersect variation ? 
The two cases of which I have mentioned the 
history give a most excellent illustration of what 
occurs. Gratio Kelleia, the Maltese, married when 
he was twenty-two years of age, and, as I suppose 
there were no six-fingered ladies in Malta, he 
married an ordinary five-fingered person. The 
result of that marriage was four children; the 
first, who was christened Salvator, had six fingres 
and six toes, like his father; the second was 
George, who had five fingers and toes, but one of 



406 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

them was deformed, showing a tendency to varia- 
tion ; the third was Andr& ; he had five fingers 
and five toes, quite perfect ; the fourth was a girl, 
Marie ; she had five fingers and five toes, but her 
thumbs were deformed, showing a tendency toward 
the sixth. 

These children grew up, and when they came to 
adult years, they all married, and of course it 
happened that they all married five-fingered and 
five-toed persons. Now let us see what were the 
results. Salvator had four children ; they were 
two boys, a girl, and another boy ; the first two 
boys and the girl were six-fingered and six-toed 
like their grandfather ; the fourth boy had only 
five fingers and five toes. George had only four 
children ; there were two girls with six fingers 
and six toes ; there was one girl with six fingers 
and five toes on the right side, and five fingers 
and five toes on the left side, so that she was half 
and half. The last, a boy, had five fingers and 
five toes. The third, Andre, you will recollect, 
was perfectly well-formed, and he had many 
children whose hands and feet were all regularly 
developed. Marie, the last, who, of course, mar- 
ried a man who had only five fingars, had four 
children ; the first, a boy, was born with six toes, 
but the other three were normal. 

Now observe what very extraordinary phenomena 
are presented here. You have an accidental varia- 
tion giving rise to what you may call a monstrosity ; 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 407 

you have that monstrosity or variation diluted 
in the first instance by an admixture with 
a female of normal construction, and you would 
naturally expect that, in the results of such an 
union, the monstrosity, if repeated, would be in 
equal proportion with the normal type ; that is to 
say, that the children would be half and half, some 
taking the peculiarity of the father, and the others 
being of the purely normal type of the mother; 
but you see we have a great preponderance of the 
abnormal type. Well, this comes to be mixed once 
more with the pure, the normal type, and the ab- 
normal is again produced in large proportion, not- 
withstanding the second dilution. Now what 
would have happened if these abnormal types had 
intermarried with each other ; that is to say, sup- 
pose the two boys of Salvator had taken it into 
their heads to marry their first cousins, the two 
first girls of George, their uncle ? You will remem- 
ber that these are all of the abnormal type of their 
grandfather. The result would probably have been, 
that their offspring would have been in every case 
a further development of that abnormal type. You 
see it is only in the fourth, in the person of Marie, 
that the tendency, when it appears but slightly in 
the second generation, is washed out in the third, 
while- the progeny of Andre, who escaped in the 
first instance, escape altogether. 

We have in this case a good example of nature's 
tendency to the perpetuation of a variation. Here 
55 



408 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

it is certainly a variation which carried with it no 
use or benefit ; and yet you see the tendency to 
perpetuation may be so strong, that, notwithstand- 
ing a great admixture of pure blood, the variety 
continues itself up to the third generation, which 
is largely marked with it. In this case, as I have 
said, there was no means of the second generation 
intermarrying with any but five-fingered persons, 
and the question naturally suggests itself, What 
would have been the result of such marriage ? 
Reaumur narrates this case only as far as the third 
generation. Certainly it would have been an ex- 
ceedingly curious thing if we could have traced this 
matter any further; had the cousins intermarried, 
a six -fingered variety of the human race might 
have been set up. 

To show you that this supposition is by no means 
an unreasonable one, let me now point out what 
took place in the case of Seth Wright's sheep, 
where it happened to be a matter of moment to 
him to obtain a breed or raise a flock of sheep like 
that accidental variety that I have described and 
I will tell you why. In that part of Massachusetts 
where Seth Wright was living, the fields were 
separated by fences, and the sheep, which were 
very active and robust, would roam abroad, and 
without much difficulty jump over these fences in- 
to other people's farms. As a matter of course, 
this exuberant activity on the part of the sheep 
constantly gave rise to all sorts of quarrels, bicker- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 409 

ings, and contentions among the farmers of the 
neighbourhood ; so it occurred to Seth Wright, 
who was, like his successors, more or less 'cute, that 
if he could get a stock of sheep like those with the 
bandy legs, they would not be able to jump over 
the fences so readily ; and he acted upon that idea. 
He killed his old ram, and as soon as the young 
one arrived at maturity, he bred altogether from 
it. The result was even more striking than in the 
human experiment which I mentioned just now. 
Colonel Humphreys testifies that it always hap- 
pened that the offspring were either pure Ancons 
or pure ordinary sheep ; that in no case was there 
any mixing of the Ancons with the others. In 
consequence of this, in the course of a very few 
years, the farmer was able to get a very consider- 
able flock of this variety, and a large number of 
them were spread throughout Massachusetts. Most 
unfortunately, however I suppose it was because 
they were so common nobody took enough notice 
of them to preserve their skeletons ; and although 
Colonel Humphreys states that he sent a skeleton 
to the President of the Royal Society at the same 
time that he forwarded his paper, I am afraid 
that the variety has entirely disappeared ; for a 
short time after these sheep had become prevalent 
in that district, the Merino sheep were introduced ; 
and as their wool was much more valuable, and as 
they were a quiet race of sheep, and showed no 
tendency to trespass or jump over fences, the Otter 



410 THE CAUSES OF THE 



XI 



breed of sheep, the wool of which was inferior to 
that of the Merino, was gradually allowed to 
die out. 

You see that these facts illustrate perfectly well 
what may be done if you take care to breed from 
stocks that are similar to each other. After having 
got a variation, if, by crossing a variation with the 
original stock, you multiply that variation, and then 
take care to keep that variation distinct from the 
original stock, and make them breed together, 
then you may almost certainly produce a race whose 
tendency to continue the variation is exceedingly 
strong. 

This is what is called " selection " ; and it is by 
exactly the same process as that by which Seth 
Wright bred his Ancon sheep, that our breeds of 
cattle, dogs, and fowls are obtained. There are 
some possibilities of exception, but still, speaking 
broadly, I may say that this is the way in which 
all our varied races of domestic animals have arisen ; 
and you must understand that it is not one 
peculiarity or one characteristic alone in which 
anhmls may vary. There is not a single peculiarity 
or characteristic of any kind, bodily or mental, in 
which offspring may not vary to a certain extent 
from the parent and other animals. 

Among ourselves this is well known The sim- 
plest physical peculiarity is mostly reproduced, I 
know a case of a woman who has the lobe of one 
of her ears a little flattened. An ordinary obser- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 411 

ver might scarcely notice it, and yet every one of 
her children has an approximation to the same 
peculiarity to some extent. If you look at the 
other extreme, too, the gravest diseases, such as 
gout, scrofula, and consumption, may be handed 
down with just the same certainty and persistence 
as we noticed in the perpetuation of the bandy 
legs of the Ancon sheep. 

However, these facts are best illustrated in 
animals, and the extent of the variation, as is well 
known, is very remarkable in dogs. For example, 
there are some dogs very much smaller than others ; 
indeed, the variation is so enormous that probably 
the smallest dog would be about the size of the 
head of the largest ; there are very great variations 
in the structural forms not only of the skeleton 
but also in the shape of the skull, and in the pro- 
portions of the face and the disposition of the teeth. 

The Pointer, the Retriever, Bulldog, and the 
Terrier differ very greatly, and yet there is every 
reason to believe that every one of these races 
has arisen from the same source, that all the 
most important races have arisen by this selective 
breeding from accidental variation. 

A still more striking case of what may be done 
by selective breeding, and it is a better case, be- 
cause there is no chance of that partial infusion of 
error to which I alluded, has been studied very 
carefully by Mr. Darwin, the case of the domestic 
pigeons. I dare say there may be some among you 



412 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

who may be pigeon fanciers, and I wish you to 
understand that in approaching the subject, I would 
speak with all humility and hesitation, as I regret 
to say that I am not a pigeon fancier. I know it 
is a great art and mystery, and a thing upon which 
a man must not speak lightly ; but I shall en- 
deavour, as far as my understanding goes, to give 
you a summary of the published and unpublished 
information which I have gained from Mr. Darwin. 
Among the enormous variety, I believe there 
are somewhere about a hundred and fifty kinds of 
pigeons, there are four kinds which may be se- 
lected as representing the extremest divergences 
of one kind from another. Their names are the 
Carrier, the Pouter, the Fantail, and the Tumbler. 
In these large diagrams that I have here they are 
each represented in their relative sizes to each 
other. This first one is the Carrier; you will 
notice this large excrescence on its beak ; it has a 
comparatively small head ; there is a bare space 
round the eyes ; it has a long neck, a very long 
beak, very strong legs, large feet, long wings, and 
so on. The second one is the Pouter, a very large 
bird, with very long legs and beak. It is called 
the Pouter because it is in the habit of causing its 
gullet to swell up by inflating it with air. I should 
tell you that all pigeons have a tendency to do this 
at times, but in the Pouter it is carried to an 
enormous extent. The birds appear to be quite 
proud of their power of swelling and puffing them- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 413 

selves out in this way ; and I think it is about as 
droll a sight as you can well see to look at a cage 
full of these pigeons puffing and blowing them- 
selves out in this ridiculous manner. 

This diagram is a representation of the third 
kind I mentioned the Fantail. It is, you see, a 
small bird, with exceedingly small legs and a very 
small beak. It is most curiously distinguished by 
the size and extent of its tail, which, instead of 
containing twelve feathers, may have many more, 
say thirty, or even more I believe there are 
some with as many as forty-two. This bird has a 
curious habit of spreading out the feathers of its 
tail in such a way that they reach forward and 
touch its head ; and if this can be accomplished, I 
believe it is looked upon as a point of great beauty. 

But here is the last great variety, the Tumbler; 
and of that great variety, one of the principal 
kinds, and one most prized, is the specimen repre- 
sented here the short-faced Tumbler. Its beak, 
you see, is reduced to a mere nothing. Just com- 
pare the beak of this one and that of the first one, 
the Carrier I believe the orthodox comparison of 
the head and beak of a thoroughly well-bred Tum- 
bler is to stick an oat into a cherry, and that will 
give you the proper relative proportions of the 
beak and head. The feet and legs are exceedingly 
small, and the bird appears to be quite a dwarf 
when placed side by side with this great Carrier. 

These are differences enough in regard to their 



v 

414 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

external appearance ; but these differences are by 
no means the whole or even the most important of 
the differences which obtain between these birds. 
There is hardly a single point of their structure 
which has not become more or less altered ; and to 
give you an idea of how extensive these alterations 
are, I have here some very good skeletons, for which 
I am indebted to my friend, Mr. Tegetmeier, a 
great authority in these matters ; by means of 
which, if you examine them by and by, you will 
be able to see the enormous difference in their 
bony structures. 

I had the privilege, some time ago, of access to 
some important MSS. of Mr. Darwin, who, I may 
tell you, has taken very great pains and spent 
much valuable time and attention on the investi- 
gation of these variations, and getting together all 
the facts that bear upon them. I obtained from 
these MSS. the following summary of the differ- 
ences between the domestic breeds of pigeons ; 
that is to say, a notification of the various points 
in which their organisation differs. In the first 
place, the back of the skull may differ a good deal, 
and the development of the bones of the face may 
vary a great deal ; the back varies a good deal ; 
the shape of the lower jaw varies ; the tongue 
varies very greatly, not only in correlation to the 
length and size of the beak, but it seems also to 
have a kind of independent variation of its own. 
Then the amount of naked skin round the eyes. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 415 

and at the base of the beak, may vary enormously ; 
so may the length of the eyelids, the shape of the 
nostrils, and the length of the neck. I have al- 
ready noticed the habit of blowing out the gullet, 
so remarkable in the Pouter, and comparatively so 
in the others. There are great differences, too, in 
the size of the female and the male, the shape of 
the body, the number and width of the processes 
of the ribs, the development of the ribs, and the 
size, shape, and development of the breastbone. 
We may notice, too and I mention the fact be- 
cause it has been disputed by what is assumed to 
be high authority, the variation in the number 
of the sacral vertebrae. The number of these 
varies from eleven to fourteen, and that without 
any diminution in the number of the vertebrae of 
the back or of the tail. Then the number and 
position of the tail-feathers may vary enormously, 
and so may the number of the primary and second- 
ary feathers of the wings. Again, the length of 
the feet and of the beak, although they have no 
relation to each other, yet appear to go together, 
that is, you have a long beak wherever you have 
long feet. There are differences also in the 
periods of the acquirement of the perfect plum- 
age the size and shape of the eggs the nature 
of flight, and the powers of flight so-called 
'' hominy " birds having enormous flying powers ; l 

1 The "Cnrrirr," I learn from Mr. Tegetmeier, does not 
carry ; a high-bred bird of this breed being but a poor flier. 



416 PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE xi 

while, on the other hand, the little Tumbler is so 
called because of its extraordinary faculty of turn- 
ing head over heels in the air, instead of pursuing 
a direct course. And, lastly, the dispositions and 
voices of the birds may vary. Thus the case of 
the pigeons shows you that there is hardly a 
single particular whether of instinct, or habit, 
or bony structure, or of plumage of either the 
internal economy or the external shape, in which 
some variation or change may not take place, 
which, by selective breeding, may become perpetu- 
ated, and form the foundation of, and give rise to, 
a new race. 

If you carry in your mind's eye these four 
varieties of pigeons, you will bear with you as 
good a notion as you can have, perhaps, of the 
enormous extent to which a deviation from a 
primitive type may be carried by means of this 
process of selective breeding. 

The birds which fly long distances, and come home "homing " 
birds and are consequently used as earners, are not ' ' carriers " 
in the fancy sense. 



THE CONDITIONS OF EXISTENCE AS AFFECTING 
THE PERPETUATION OF LIVING BEINGS. 

IN the last Lecture I endeavoured to prove to 
you that, while, as a general rule, organic beings 
tend to reproduce their kind, there is in them, 
also, a constantly recurring tendency to vary to 
vary to a greater or to a less extent. Such a 
variety, I pointed out to you, might arise from 
causes which we do not understand ; we there- 
fore called it spontaneous ; and it might come 
into existence as a definite and marked thing, 
without any gradations between itself and the 
form which preceded it. I further pointed out, 
that such a variety having once arisen, might be 
perpetuated to some extent, and indeed to a very 
marked extent, without any direct interference, or 
without any exercise of that process which we 
called selection. And then I stated further, that 
by such selection, when exercised artificially if 
you took care to breed only from those forms 
which presented the same peculiarities of any 



418 THE CAUSES OF THE X I 

variety which had arisen in this manner the 
variation might be perpetuated, as far as we can 
see, indefinitely. 

The next question, and it is an important one 
for us, is this : Is there any limit to the amount 
of variation from the primitive stock which can 
be produced by this process of selective breeding ? 
In considering this question, it will be useful to 
class the characteristics, in respect of which 
organic beings vary, under two heads : we may 
consider structural characteristics, and we may 
consider physiological characteristics. 

In the first place, as regards structural charac- 
teristics, I endeavoured to show you, by the 
skeletons which I had upon the table, and by 
reference to a great many well-ascertained facts, 
that the different breeds of Pigeons, the Carriers, 
Pouters, and Tumblers, might vary in any of their 
internal and important structural characters to a 
very great degree ; not only might there be changes 
in the proportions of the skull, and the characters 
of the feet and beaks, and so on ; but that there 
might be an absolute difference in the number of 
the vertebra of the back, as in the sacral vertebras 
of the Pouter ; and so great is the extent of the 
variation in these and similar characters that I 
pointed out to you, by reference to the skeletons 
and the diagrams, that these extreme varieties 
may absolutely differ more from one another in 
their structural characters than do what naturalists 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 419 

call distinct SPECIES of pigeons ; that is to say, 
that they differ so much in structure that there is 
a greater difference between the Pouter and the 
Tumbler than there is between such wild and dis- 
tinct forms as the Rock Pigeon or the Ring Pigeon, 
or the Ring Pigeon and the Stock Dove ; and 
indeed the differences are of greater value than 
this, for the structural differences between these 
domesticated pigeons are such as would be ad- 
mitted by a naturalist, supposing he knew nothing 
at all about their origin, to entitle them to con- 
stitute even distinct genera. 

As I have used this term SPECIES, and shall prob- 
ably use it a good deal, I had betterperhaps devote 
a word or two to explaining what I mean by it. 

Animals and plants are divided into groups, 
which become gradually smaller, beginning with 
a KINGDOM, which is divided into SUB-KINGDOMS ; 
then come the smaller divisions called PROVINCES ; 
and so on from a PROVINCE to a CLASS, from a 
CLASS to an ORDER, from ORDERS to FAMILIES, 
and from these to GENERA, until we come at 
length to the smallest groups of animals which 
can be denned one from the other by constant 
characters, which are not sexual ; and these are 
what naturalists call SPECIES in practice, whatever 
they may do in theory. 

If, in a state of nature, you find any two groups 
of living beings, which are separated one from the 
other by some constantly-recurring characteristic, 



420 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

I don't care how slight and trivial, so long as it is 
defined and constant, and does not depend on 
sexual peculiarities, then all naturalists agree in 
calling them two species ; that is what is meant 
by the use of the word species that is to say, it 
is, for the practical naturalist, a mere question of 
structural differences. 1 

We have seen now to repeat this point once 
more, and it is very essential that we should 
rightly understand it we have seen that breeds, 
known to have been derived from a common stock 
by selection, may be as different in their structure 
from the original stock as species may be distinct 
from each other. 

But is the like true of the physiological charac- 
teristics of animals ? Do the physiological differ- 
ences of varieties amount in degree to those 
observed between forms which naturalists call 
distinct species ? This is a most important point 
for us to consider. 

As regards the great majority of physiological 
characteristics, there is no doubt that they are 
capable of being developed, increased, and modi- 
fied by selection. 

There is no doubt that breeds may be made as 
different as species in many physiological charac- 
ters. I have already pointed out to you very 

1 I lay stress here on the practical signification of " Species." 
Whether a physiological test between species exist or not, it is 
hardly ever applicable by the practical naturalist. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 421 

briefly the different habits of the breeds of 
Pigeons, all of which depend upon their physio- 
logical peculiarities as the peculiar habit of 
tumbling, in the Tumbler the peculiarities of 
flight, in the " homing " birds the strange habit 
of spreading out the tail, and walking in a peculiar 
fashion, in the Fantail and, lastly, the habit of 
blowing out the gullet, so characteristic of the 
Pouter. These are all due to physiological modifi- 
cations, and in all these respects these birds differ 
as much from each other as any two ordinary 
species do. 

So with Dogs in their habits and instincts. It 
is a physiological peculiarity which leads the 
Greyhound to chase its prey by sight that enables 
the Beagle to track it by the scent that impels 
the Terrier to its rat-hunting propensity and 
that leads the Retriever to its habit of retrieving. 
These habits and instincts are all the results of 
physiological differences and peculiarities, which 
have been developed from a common stock, at 
least there is every reason to believe so. But it 
is a most singular circumstance, that while you 
may run through almost the whole series of 
physiological processes, without finding a check to 
your argument, you come at last to a point where 
you do find a check, and that is in the reproduc- 
tive processes. For there is a most singular cir- 
cumstance in respect to natural species at least 
about some of them and it would be sufficient 



422 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

for the purposes of this argument if it were true 
of only one of them, but there is, in fact, a great 
number of such cases and that is, that, similar 
as they may appear to be to mere races or breeds, 
they present a marked peculiarity in the repro- 
ductive process. If you breed from the male and 
female of the same race, you of course have off- 
spring of the like kind, and if you make the off- 
spring breed together, you obtain the same result, 
and if you breed from these again, you will still 
have the same kind of offspring; there is no 
check. But if you take members of two distinct 
species, however similar they may be to each other, 
and make them breed together, -you will find a 
check, with some modifications and exceptions, 
however, which I shall speak of presently. If 
you cross two such species with each other, then 
although you may get offspring in the case of 
the first cross, yet, if you attempt to breed from 
the products of that crossing, which are what are 
called HYBRIDS that is, if you couple a male 
and a female hybrid then the result is that in 
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you will 
get no offspring at all ; there will be no result 
whatsoever. 

The reason of this is quite obvious in some 
cases ; the male hybrids, although possessing all 
the external appearances and characteristics of 
perfect animals, are physiologically imperfect and 
deficient in the structural parts of the reproductive 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 423 

elements necessary to generation. It is said to 
be invariably the case with the male mule, the 
cross between the Ass and the Mare ; and hence 
it is, that, although crossing the Horse with the 
Ass is easy enough, and is constantly done, as far 
as I am aware, if you take two mules, a male and 
a female, and endeavour to breed from them, you 
get no offspring whatever ; no generation will take 
place. This is what is called the sterility of the 
hybrids between two distinct species. 

You see that this is a very extraordinary cir- j 
cumstance ; one does not see why it should be. MTO 
The common teleological explanation is, that it is 
to prevent the impurity of the blood resulting D{J^- 
from the crossing of one species with another, but ' j 
you see it does not in reality do anything of the 
kind. There is nothing in this fact that hybrids 
cannot breed with each other, to establish such a 
theory ; there is nothing to prevent the Horse 
breeding with the Ass, or the Ass with the Horse. 
So that this explanation breaks down, as a great 
many explanations of this kind do, that are only 
founded on mere assumptions. 

Thus you see that there is a great difference 
between "mongrels," which are crosses between 
distinct races, and "hybrids," which are crosses 
between distinct species. The mongrels are, so 
far as we know, fertile with one another. But 
between species, in many cases, you cannot suc- 
ceed in obtaining even the first cross ; at any rate 

66 



424 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

it is quite certain that the hybrids are often abso- 
lutely infertile one with another. 

Here is a feature, then, great or small as it may 
be, which distinguishes natural species of animals. 
Can we find any approximation to this in the 
different races known to be produced by selective 
breeding from a common stock ? Up to the 
present time the answer to that question is abso- 
lutely a negative one. As far as we know at 
present, there is nothing approximating to this 
check. In crossing the breeds between the Fan- 
tail and the Pouter, the Carrier and the Tumbler, 
or any other variety or race you may name so far 
as we know at present there is no difficulty in 
breeding together the mongrels. Take the Carrier 
and the Fantail, for instance, and let them repre- 
sent the Horse and the Ass in the case of distinct 
species ; then you have, as the result of their breed- 
ing, the Carrier-Fan tail mongrel, we will say the 
male and female mongrel, and, as far as we know, 
these two when crossed would not be less fertile 
than the original cross, or than Carrier with Car- 
rier. Here, you see, is a physiological contrast 
between the races produced by selective modifica- 
tion and natural species. I shall inquire into the 
value of this fact, and of some modifying circum- 
stances by and by ; for the present I merely put 
it broadly before you. 

But while considering this question of the limi- 
tations of species, a word must be said about what 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 425 

is called RECURRENCE tne tendency of races 
which have been developed by selective breeding 
from varieties to return to their primitive type. 
This is supposed by many to put an absolute limit 
to the extent of selective and all other variations. 
People say, " It is all very well to talk about pro- 
ducing these different races, but you know very 
well that if you turned all these birds wild, these 
Pouters, and Carriers, and so on, they would all re- 
turn to their primitive stock." This is very com- 
monly assumed to be a fact, and it is an argument 
that is commonly brought forward as conclusive ; 
but if you will take the trouble to inquire into it 
rather closely, I think you will find that it is not 
worth very much. The first question of course is, 
Do they thus return to the primitive stock ? And 
commonly as the thing is assumed and accepted, 
it is extremely difficult to get anything like good 
evidence of it. It is constantly said, for example, 
that if domesticated Horses are turned wild, as 
they have been in some parts of Asia Minor and 
South America, that they return at once to the 
primitive stock from which they were bred. But 
the first answer that you make to this assumption 
is, to ask who knows what the primitive stock 
was ; and the second answer is, that in that case 
the wild Horses of Asia Minor ought to be exactly 
like the wild Horses of South America. If they 
are both like the same thing, they ought mani- 
festly to be like each other ! The best authorities, 



426 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

however, tell you that it is quite different. The 
wild Horse of Asia is said to be of a dun colour, 
with a largish head, and a great many other pe- 
culiarities ; while the best authorities on the wild 
Horses of South America tell you that there is no 
similarity between their wild Horses and those of 
Asia Minor; the cut of their heads is very differ- 
ent, and they are commonly chestnut or bay- 
coloured. It is quite clear, therefore, that as by 
these facts there ought to have been two primitive 
stocks, they go for nothing in support of the as- 
sumption that races recur to one primitive stock, 
and so far as this evidence is concerned, it falls to 
the ground. 

Suppose for a moment that it were so, and 
that domesticated races, when turned wild, did 
return to some common condition, I cannot see 
that this would prove much more than that simi- 
lar conditions are likely to produce similar results ; 
and that when you take back domesticated ani- 
mals into what we call natural conditions, you do 
exactly the same thing as if you carefully undid 
all the work you had gone through, for the pur- 
pose of bringing the animal from its wild to its 
domesticated state. I do not see anything very 
wonderful in the fact, if it took all that trouble to 
g'et it from a wild state, that it should go back in- 
to its original state as soon as you removed the 
conditions which produced the variation to the 
domesticated form. There is an important fact, 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 427 

however, forcibly brought forward by Mr. Darwin, 
which has been noticed in connection with the breed- 
ing of domesticated pigeons ; and it is, that how- 
ever different these breeds of pigeons may be from 
each other, and we have already noticed the great 
differences in these breeds, that if, among any of 
those variations, you chance to have a blue pigeon 
turn up, it will be sure to have the black bars 
across the wings, which are characteristic of the 
original wild stock, the Rock Pigeon. 

Now, this is certainly a very remarkable cir- 
cumstance ; but I do not see myself how it tells 
very strongly either one way or the other. I 
think, in fact, that this argument in favour of re- 
currence to the primitive type might prove a great 
deal too much for those who so constant!}' bring it 
forward. For example, Mr. Darwin has very for- 
cibly urged, that nothing is commoner than if you 
examine a dun horse and I had an opportunity 
of verifying this illustration lately while in the 
islands of the West Highlands, where there are a 
great many dun horses to find that horse exhibit 
a long black stripe down his back, very often 
stripes on his shoulder, and very often stripes on 
his legs. I, myself, saw a pony of this description 
a short time ago, in a baker's cart, near Rothesay, 
in Bute : it had the long stripe down the back, 
and stripes on the shoulders and legs, just like 
those of the Ass, the Quagga, 'and the Zebra. 
Now, if we interpret the theory of recurrence as 



428 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

applied to this case, might it not be said that here 
was a case of a variation exhibiting the characters 
and conditions of an animal occupying something 
like an intermediate position between the Horse, 
the Ass, the Quagga, and the Zebra, and from 
which these had been developed ? In the same 
way with regard even to Man. Every anatomist 
will tell you that there is nothing commoner, in 
dissecting the human body, than to meet with 
what are called muscular variations that is, if 
you dissect two bodies very carefully, you will prob- 
ably find that the modes of attachment and in- 
sertion of the muscles are not exactly the same in 
both, there being great peculiarities in the mode 
in which the muscles are arranged ; and it is very 
singular, that in some dissections of the human 
body you will come upon arrangements of the 
muscles very similar indeed to the same parts 
in the Apes. Is the conclusion in that case 
to be, that this is like the black bars in the case 
of the Pigeon, and that it indicates a recurrence 
to the primitive type from which the animals 
have been probably developed ? Truly, I think 
that the opponents of modification and variation 
had better leave the argument of recurrence 
alone, or it may prove altogether too strong for 
them. 

To sum up, the evidence as far as we have 
gone is against the argument as to any limit to 
divergences, so far as structure is concerned ; and 



XI PHENOMENA OF OKGANIC NATURE 429 

in favour of a physiological limitation. By selec- 
tive breeding we can produce structural diver- 
gences as grea.t as those of species, but we cannot 
produce equal physiological divergences. For the 
present I leave the question there. 

Now, the next problem th^t lies before us and 
it is an extremely important one is this : Does 
this selective breeding occur in nature ? Because, 
if there is no proof of it, all that I have been tell- 
ing you goes for nothing in accounting for the 
origin of species. Are natural causes competent 
to play the part of selection in perpetuating 
varieties ? Here we labour under very great 
difficulties. In the last lecture I had occasion to 
point out to you the extreme difficulty of obtain- 
ing evidence even of the first origin of those 
varieties which we know to have occurred in 
domesticated animals. I told you, that almost al- 
ways the origin of these varieties is overlooked, so 
that I could only produce two or three cases, as 
that of Gratio Kelleia and of the Ancon sheep. 
People forget, or do not take notice of them until 
they come to have a prominence ; and if that is 
true of artificial cases, under our own eyes, and in 
animals in our own care, how much more difficult 
it must be to have at first hand good evidence of 
the origin of varieties in nature ! Indeed, I do 
not know that it is possible by direct evidence to 
prove the origin of a variety in nature, or to prove 
selective breeding ; but I will tell you what we 



430 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

can prove and this comes to the same thing 
that varieties exist in nature within the limits of 
species, and, what is more, that when a variety has 
come into existence in nature, there are natural 
causes and conditions, which are amply competent 
to play the part of a selective breeder ; and al- 
though that is not quite the evidence that one 
would like to have though it is not direct testi- 
mony yet it is exceeding good and exceedingly 
powerful evidence in its way. 

As to the first point, of varieties existing 
among natural species, I might appeal to the 
universal experience of every naturalist, and of 
any person who has ever turned any attention 
at all to the characteristics of plants and animals 
in a state of nature; but I may as well take 
a few definite cases, and I will begin with Man 
himself. 

I am one of those who believe that, at present, 
there is no evidence whatever for saying, that man- 
kind sprang originally from any more than a single 
pair ; I must say, that I cannot see any good 
ground whatever, or even any tenable sort of evi- 
dence, for believing that there is more than one 
species of Man. Nevertheless, as you know, just 
as there are numbers of varieties in animals, so 
there are remarkable varieties of men. I speak 
not merely of those broad and distinct variations 
which you see at a glance. Everybody, of course, 
knows the difference between a Negro and a white 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 431 

man, and can tell a Chinaman from an English- 
man. They each have peculiar characteristics of 
colour and physiognomy; but you must recollect 
that the characters of these races go very far 
deeper they extend to the bony structure, and to 
the characters of that most important of all organs 
to us the brain ; so that, among men belonging 
to different races, or even within the same race, 
one man shall have a brain a third, or half, or even 
seventy per cent, bigger than another ; and if you 
take the whole range of human brains, you will 
find a variation in some cases of a hundred per 
cent. Apart from these variations in the size of 
the brain, the characters of the skull vary. Thus 
if I draw the figures of a Mongol and of a Negro 
head on the blackboard, in the case of the last the 
breadth would be about seven-tenths, and in the 
other it would be nine-tenths of the total length. 
So that you see there is abundant evidence of 
variation among men in their natural condition. 
And if you turn to other animals there is just the 
same thing. The fox, for example, which has a 
very large geographical distribution all over 
Europe, and parts of Asia, and on the American 
Continent, varies greatly. There are mostly large 
foxes in the North, and smaller ones in the South. 
In Germany alone the foresters reckon some eight 
different sorts. 

Of the tiger, no one supposes that there is more 
than one species ; they extend from the hottest 



432 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

parts of Bengal, into the dry, cold, bitter steppes 
of Siberia, into a latitude of 50, so that they may 
even prey upon the reindeer. These tigers have 
exceedingly different characteristics, but still they 
all keep their general features, so that there is no 
doubt as to their being tigers. The Siberian 
tiger has a thick fur, a small mane, and a longi- 
tudinal stripe down the back, while the tigers of 
Java and Sumatra differ in many important re- 
spects from the tigers of Northern Asia. So lions 
vary ; so birds vary ; and so, if you go further back 
and lower down in creation, you find that fishes 
vary. In different streams, in the same country 
even, you will find the trout to be quite different 
to each other and easily recognisable by those who 
fish in the particular streams. There is the same 
differences in leeches ; leech collectors can easily 
point out to you the differences and the peculiari- 
ties which you yourself would probably pass by ; 
so with fresh-water mussels ; so, in fact, with every 
animal you can mention. 

In plants there is the same kind of variation. 
Take such a case even as the common bramble. 
The botanists are all at war about it ; some of 
them wanting to make out that there are many 
species of it, and others maintaining that they are 
but many varieties of one species ; and they can- 
not settle to this day which is a species and which 
is a variety ! 

So that there can be no doubt whatsoever that 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 433 

any plant and any animal may vary in nature ; 
that varieties may arise in the way I have described 
as spontaneous varieties and that those varie- 
ties may be perpetuated in the same way that I 
have shown you spontaneous varieties are perpetu- 
ated ; I say, therefore, that there can be no doubt 
as to the origin and perpetuation of varieties in 
nature. 

But the question now is : Does selection take 
place in nature ? Is there anything like the 
operation of man in exercising selective breeding, 
taking place in nature ? You will observe that, 
at present, I say nothing about species ; I wish to 
confine myself to the consideration of the pro- 
duction of those natural races which everybody 
admits to exist. The question is, whether in 
nature there are causes competent to produce 
races, just in the same way as man is able to pro- 
duce by selection, such races of animals as we 
have already noticed. 

When a variety has arisen, the CONDITIONS OF 
EXISTENCE are such as to exercise an influence 
which is exactly comparable to that of artificial 
selection. By Conditions of Existence I mean 
two things there are conditions which are fur- 
nished by the physical, the inorganic world, and 
there are conditions of existence which are fur- 
nished by the organic world. There is, in the first 
place, CLIMATE ; under that head I include only 
temperature and the varied amount of moisture 



434 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

of particular places. In the next place there is 
what is technically called STATION, which means 
given the climate, the particular kind of place 
in which an animal or a plant lives or grows ; for 
example, the station of a fish is in the water, of a 
fresh-water fish in fresh water ; the station of a 
marine fish is in the sea, and a marine animal 
may have a station higher or deeper. So again 
with land animals : the differences in their stations 
are those of different soils and neighbourhoods ; 
some being best adapted to a calcareous, and 
others to an arenaceous soil. The third condition 
of existence is FoojD^by which I mean food in 
the broadest sense, the supply of the materials 
necessary to the existence of an organic being ; in 
the case of a plant the inorganic matters, such as 
carbonic acid, water, ammonia, and the earthy 
salts or salines ; in the case of the animal the in- 
organic and organic matters, which we have seen 
they require ; then these are all, at least the first 
two, what we may call the inorganic or physical 
conditions of existence. Food takes a mid-place, 
and then come the organic conditions ; by which 
I mean the conditions which depend upon the 
state of the rest of the organic creation, upon the 
number and kind of living beings, with which an 
animal is surrounded. You may class these under 
two heads : there are organic beings, which operate 
as opponents, and there are organic beings which 
operate as helpers to any given organic creature. 



Si PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 435 

The opponents may be of two kinds : there are 
the indirect opponents, which are what we may 
call rivals; and there are the direct opponents, 
those which strive to destroy the creature ; and 
these we call enemies. By rivals I mean, of course, 
in the case of plants, those which require for their 
support the samp kind of soil and station, and, 
among animals, those which require the same kind 
of station, or food, or climate ; those are the in- 
direct opponents ; the direct opponents are, of 
course, those which prey upon an animal or 
vegetable. The helpers may also be regarded as 
direct and indirect : in the case of a carnivorous 
animal, for example, a particular herbaceous plant 
may, in multiplying, be an indirect helper, by en- 
abling the herbivora on which the carnivore preys 
to get more food, and thus to nourish the carnivore 
more abundantly ; the direct helper may be best 
illustrated by reference to some parasitic creature, 
such as the tape-worm. The tape-worm exists in 
the human intestines, so that the fewer there are 
of men the fewer there will be of tape-worms, 
other things being alike. It is a humiliating re- 
flection, perhaps, that we may be classed as direct 
helpers to the tape-worm, but the fact is so : we 
can all see that if there were no men there would 
be no tape-worms. 

It is extremely difficult to estimate, in a proper 
way, the importance and the working of the Con- 
ditions of Existence. I do not think there were 
any of us who had the remotest notion of properly 



436 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

estimating them until the publication of Mr. 
Darwin's work, which has placed them before us 
with remarkable clearness ; and I must endeavour, 
as far as I can in my own fashion, to give you 
some notion of how they work. We shall find it 
easiest to take a simple case, and one as free as 
possible from every kind of complication. 

I will suppose, therefore, that all the habitable 
part of this globe the dry land, amounting to 
about 51,000,000 square miles I will suppose 
that the whole of that dry land has the same 
climate, and that it is composed of the same kind 
of rock or soil, so that there will be the same 
station everywhere ; we thus get rid of the peculiar 
influence of different climates and stations. I 
will then imagine that there shall be but one 
organic being in the world, and that shall be a 
plant. In this we start fair. Its food is to be 
carbonic acid, water and ammonia, and the saline 
matters in the soil, which are, by the supposition, 
everywhere alike. We take one single plant, 
with no opponents, no helpers, and no rivals ; it is 
to be a " fair field, and no favour." Now, I will 
ask you to imagine further that it shall be a plant 
which shall produce every year fifty seeds, which 
is a very moderate number for a plant to produce ; 
and that, by the action of the winds and currents, 
these seeds shall be equally and gradually dis- 
tributed over the whole surface of the land. I 
want you now to trace out what will occur, and 
you will observe that I am not talking fallaciously 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 437 

any more than a mathematician does when he ex- 
poun Is his problem. If you show that the con- 
ditions of your problem are such as may actually 
occur in Nature and do not transgress any of the 
known laws of Nature in working out your pro- 
position, then you are as safe in the conclusion 
you arrive at as is the mathematician in arriving 
at the solution of his problem. In science, the 
only way of getting rid of the complications with 
which a subject of this kind is environed, is to 
work in this deductive method. What will be 
the result, then ? I will suppose that every plant 
requires one square foot of ground to live upon ; 
and the result will be that, in the course of nine 
years, the plant will have occupied every single 
available spot in the whole globe ! I have chalked 
upon the blackboard the figures by which I arrive 
at the result : 



Plants. 










Plants. 


1 


x 


50 in 1st year = 


50 


50 


X 


50 2nd 


n 


as 


2,500 


2,500 


x 


50 3rd 




as 


125,000 


125,000 


X 


50 , 4th 







6,250,000 


6,250,000 


X 


50 


5th 


n 


as 


312,500,000 


312,500,000 


X 


50 


6th 


M 


= 


15,625,000,000 


15,625,000,000 


X 


50 


7th 


,, 


= 


781,250,000,000 


781,250,000,000 


X 


50 


8th 


J} 


= 


39,062,500,000.000 


39,062,500,000,000 


X 


50 


9th 


,, 


= 


1,953,125,000,000,000 


51,000,000 square 


miles the^ 


dry surface of ' 


he 


earth x 1 








27,878,400 the 


]i 


imber off 




--: S( 




1,42 ,79 ,4 , , 



sq. ft. in 1 sq. mile 

being 531,326,600,000,000 

square feet less than would be required at the eud of the ninth 
year. 



438 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

You will see from this that, at the end of the 
first year the single plant will have produced fifty 
more of its kind ; by the end of the second year 
these will have increased to 2,500 ; and so on. in 
succeeding years, you get beyond even trillions ; 
and I am not at all sure that I could tell you what 
the proper arithmetical denomination of the total 
number really is ; but, at any rate, you will under- 
stand the meaning of all those noughts. Then 
you see that at the bottom, I have taken the 
51,000,000 of square miles, constituting the sur- 
face of the dry land ; and as the number of square 
feet are placed under and subtracted from the 
number of seeds that would be produced in the 
ninth year, you can see at once that there would 
be an immense number more of plants than there 
would be square feet of ground for their accom- 
modation. This is certainly quite enough to 
prove my point; that between the eighth and ninth 
year after being planted the single plant would have 
stocked the whole available surface of the earth. 

This is a thing which is hardly conceivable it 
seems hardly imaginable yet it is so. It is 
indeed simply the law of Malthus exemplified. 
Mr. Malthus was a clergyman, who worked out 
this subject most minutely and truthfully some 
years ago ; he showed quite clearly and although 
he was much abused for his conclusions at the 
time, they have never yet been disproved and 
never will be he showed that in consequence of 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 439 

the increase in the number of organic beings in a 
geometrical ratio, while the means of existence 
cannot be made to increase in the same ratio, that 
there must come a time when the number of or- 
ganic beings will be in excess of the power of pro- 
duction of nutriment, and that thus some check 
must arise to the further increase of those organic 
beings. At the end of the ninth year we have seen 
that each plant would not be able to get its full 
square foot of ground, and at the end of another 
year it would have to share that space with fifty 
others the produce of the seeds which it would 
give off. 

What, then, takes place ? Every plant grows 
up, nourishes, occupies its square foot of ground, 
and gives off its fifty seeds ; but notice this, that 
out of this number only one can come to anything; 
there is thus, as it were, forty-nine chances to one 
against its growing up ; it depends upon the most 
fortuitous circumstances whether any one of these 
fifty seeds shall grow up and flourish, or whether 
it shall die and perish. This is what Mr. Darwin 
has drawn attention to, and called the " STRUGGLE 
FOR EXISTENCE " ; and I have taken this simple 
case of a plant because some people imagine that 
the phrase seems to imply a sort of fight. 

I have taken this plant and shown you that this 
is the result of the ratio of the increase, the neces- 
sary result of the arrival of a time coming for every 
species when exactly as many members must be 

67 



440 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

destroyed as are born ; that is the inevitable ulti- 
mate result of the rate of production. Now, what 
is the result of all this ? I have said that there 
are forty-nine struggling against every one ; and 
it amounts to this, that the smallest possible start 
given to any one seed may give it an advantage 
which will enable it to get ahead of all the others ; 
anything that will enable any one of these seeds to 
germinate six hours before any of the others will, 
other things being alike, enable it to choke them 
out altogether. I have shown you that there is 
no particular in which plants will not vary from 
each other ; it is quite possible that one of our 
imaginary plants may vary in such a character as 
the thickness of the integument of its seeds ; it 
might happen that one of the plants might pro- 
duce seeds having a thinner integument, and that 
would enable the seeds of that plant to germinate 
a little quicker than those of any of the others, and 
those seeds would most inevitably extinguish the 
forty-nine times as many that were struggling 
with them. 

I have put it in this way, but you see the practi- 
cal result of the process is the same as % if some 
person had nurtured the one and destroyed the 
other seeds. It does not matter how the variation 
is produced, so long as it is once allowed to occur. 
The variation in the plant once fairly started tends 
to become hereditary and reproduce itself; the 
seeds would spread themselves in the same way 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 441 

and take part in the struggle with the forty-nine 
hundred, or forty-nine thousand, with which they 
might be exposed. Thus, by degrees, this variety 
with some slight organic change or modification, 
must spread itself over the whole surface of the 
habitable globe, and extirpate or replace the other 
kinds. That is what is meant by NATURAL 
SELECTION ; that is the kind of argument by which 
it is perfectly demonstrable that the conditions of 
existence may play exactly the same part for 
natural varieties as man does for domesticated 
varieties. No one doubts at all that particular 
circumstances may be more favourable for one 
plant and less so for another, and the moment you 
admit that, you admit the selective power of 
nature. Now, although I have been putting a 
hypothetical case, you must not suppose that I 
have been reasoning hypothetical! y. There are 
plenty of direct experiments which bear out what 
we may call the theory of natural selection ; there 
is extremely good authority for the statement that 
if you take the seed of mixed varieties of wheat 
and sow it, collecting the seed next year and sow- 
ing it again, at length you will find that out of all 
your varieties only two or three have lived, or per- 
haps even only one. There were one or two 
varieties which were best fitted to get on, and they 
have killed out the other kinds in just the same 
way and with just the same certainty as if you had 
taken the trouble to remove them. As I have 



442 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

already* said, the operation of nature is exactly 
the same as the artificial operation of man. 

But if this be true of that simple case, which I 
put before you, where there is nothing but the 
rivalry of one member of a species with others, 
what must be the operation of selective conditions, 
when you recollect as a matter of fact, that for 
every species of animal or plant there are fifty or 
a hundred species which might all, more or less, be 
comprehended in the same climate, food, and sta- 
tion ; that every plant has multitudinous animals 
which prey upon it, and which are its direct oppo- 
nents ; and that these have other animals preying 
upon them, that every plant has its indirect 
helpers in the birds that scatter abroad its seed, 
and the animals that manure it with their dung ; 
I say, when these things are considered, it seems 
impossible that any variation which may arise in 
a species iu nature should not tend in some way 
or other either to be a little better or worse than 
the previous stock ; if it is a little better it will 
have an advantage over and tend to extirpate the 
latter in this crush and struggle; and if it is a 
little worse it will itself be extirpated. 

I know nothing that more appropriately ex- 
presses this, than the phrase, "the struggle for 
existence " ; because it brings before your minds, 
in a vivid sort of way, some of the simplest pos- 
sible circumstances connected with it. When a 
struggle is intense there must be some who are 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 443 

sure to be trodden down, crushed, and overpowered 
by others ; and there will be some who just 
manage to get through only by the help of the 
slightest accident. I recollect reading an account 
of the famous retreat of the French troops, under 
Napoleon, from Moscow. Worn out, tired, and 
dejected, they at length came to a great river over 
which there was but one bridge for the passage of 
the vast army. Disorganised and demoralised as 
that army was, the struggle must certainly have 
been a terrible one every one heeding only him- 
self, and crushing through the ranks and treading 
down his fellows. The writer of the narrative, 
who was himself one of those who were fortunate 
enough to succeed in getting over, and not among 
the thousands who were left behind or forced into 
the river, ascribed his escape to the fact that he 
saw striding onward through the mass a great 
strong fellow, one of the French Cuirassiers, who 
had on a large blue cloak and he had enough 
presence of mind to catch and retain a hold of this 
strong man's cloak. He says, " I caught hold of 
his cloak, and although he swore at me and cut 
at and struck me by turns, and at last, when he 
found he could not shake me off, fell to entreating 
me to leave go or I should prevent him from 
escaping, besides not assisting myself, I still kept 
tight hold of him, and would not quit my grasp 
until he had at last dragged me through." Here 
you see was a case of selective saving if we may 



444 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

so term it depending for its success on the 
strength of the cloth of the Cuirassier's cloak. It 
is the same in nature ; every species has its bridge of 
Beresina ; it has to fight its way through and strug- 
gle with other species ; and when well-nigh over- 
powered, it may be that the smallest chance, some- 
thing in its colour, perhaps the minutest circum- 
stance will turn the scale one way or the other. 

Suppose that by a variation of the black race it 
had produced the white man at any time you 
know that the Negroes are said to believe this to 
have been the case, and to imagine that Cain 
was the first white man, and that we are his 
descendants suppose that this had ever hap- 
pened, and that the first residence of this human 
being was on the West Coast of Africa. There is no 
great structural difference between the white man 
and the Negro, and yet there is something so sin- 
gularly different in the constitution of the two, 
that the malarias of that country, which do not 
hurt the black at all, cut off and destroy the white. 
Then you see there would have been a selective 
operation performed ; if the white man had risen 
in that way, he would have been selected out and 
removed by means of the malaria. Now there 
really is a very curious case of selection of this 
sort among pigs, and it is a case of selection of 
colour too. In the woods of Florida there are a 
great many pigs, and it is a very curious thing that 
they are all black, every one of them. Professor 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 445 

Wyman was there some years ago, and on noticing 
no pigs but these black ones, he asked some of the 
people how it was that they had no white pigs, 
and the reply was that in the woods of Florida 
there was a root which they called the Paint 
Root, and that if the white pigs were to eat any 
of it, it had the effect of making their hoofs crack, 
and they died, but if the black pigs ate any of it, 
it did not hurt them at all. Here was a very 
simple case of natural selection. A skilful breeder 
could not more carefully develop the black breed 
of pigs, and weed out all the white pigs, than the 
Paint Root does. 

To show you how remarkably indirect may be 
such natural selective agencies as I have referred 
to, I will conclude by noticing a case mentioned 
by Mr. Darwin, and which is certainly one of the 
most curious of its kind. It is that of the Humble 
Bee. It has been noticed that there are a great 
many more humble bees in the neighbourhood of 
towns, than out in the open country ; and the ex- 
planation of the matter is this : the humble bees 
build nests, in which they store their honey and 
deposit the larvae and eggs. The field mice are 
amazingly fond of the honey and larvae ; therefore, 
wherever there are plenty of field mice, as in the 
country, the humble bees are kept down ; but in 
the neighbourhood of towns, the number of cats 
which prowl about the fields eat up the field mice, 
and of course the more mice they eat up the less 



446 PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE xi 

there are to prey upon the larvae of the bees the 
cats are therefore the INDIRECT HELPERS of the 
bees. 1 Coming back a step farther we may say 
that the old maids are also indirect friends of the 
humble bees, and indirect enemies of the field 
mice, as they keep the cats which eat up the 
latter ! This is an illustration somewhat beneath 
the dignity of the subject, perhaps, but it occurs 
to me in passing, and with it I will conclude this 
lecture. 

1 The humble bees, on the other hand, are direct helpers of 
some plants, such as the heartsease and red clover, which are 
fertilised by the visits of the bees ; and they are indirect helpers 
of the numerous insects which are more or less completely sup- 
ported by the heartsease and red clover. 



VI 



A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE POSITION OF 
MR. DARWIN'S WORK, "ON THE ORIGIN OF 
SPECIES," IN RELATION TO THE COMPLETE 
THEORY OF THE CAUSES OF THE PHENOMENA 
OF ORGANIC NATURE. 

IN the preceding five lectures I have endeav- 
oured to give you an account of those facts, and 
of those reasonings from facts, which form the 
data upon which all theories regarding the causes 
of the phenomena of organic nature must be 
based. And, although I have had frequent 
occasion to quote Mr. Darwin as all persons here- 
after, in speaking upon these subjects, will have 
occasion to quote his famous book on the " Origin 
of Species," you must yet remember that, wher- 
ever I have quoted him, it has not been upon 
theoretical points, or for statements in any way 
connected with his particular speculations, but on 
matters of fact, brought forward by himself, or 
collected by himself, and which appear incidentally 
in his book. If a man will make a book, pro- 



448 THE CAUSES OF THE X 

fessing to discuss a single question, an encyclo- 
paedia, I cannot help it. 

Now, having had an opportunity of considering 
in this sort of way the different statements bear- 
ing upon all theories whatsoever, I have to lay 
before you, as fairly as I can, what is Mr. Darwin's 
view of the matter and what position his theories 
hold, when judged by the principles which I have 
previously laid down, as deciding our judgments 
upon all theories and hypotheses. 

I have already stated to you that the inquiry 
respecting the causes of the phenomena of organic 
nature resolves itself into two problems the first 
being, the question of the origination of living or 
organic beings ; and the second being the totally 
distinct problem of the modification and perpetua- 
tion of organic beings when they have already 
come into existence. The first question Mr. 
Darwin does not touch ; he does not deal with it 
at all ; but he says : " Given the origin of organic 
matter supposing its creation to have already 
taken place, my object is to show in consequence 
of what laws and what demonstrable properties of 
organic matter, and of its environments, such 
states of organic nature as those with which we 
are acquainted must have come about." This, you 
will observe, is a perfectly legitimate proposition ; 
every person has a right to define the limits of 
the inquiry which he sets before himself ; and yet 
it is a most singular thing that in all the multi- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 449 

farious, and, not unfrequently, ignorant attacks 
which have been made upon the " Origin of 
Species," there is nothing which has been more 
speciously criticised than this particular limitation. 
If people have nothing else to urge against the 
book, they say " Well, after all, you see Mr. 
Darwin's explanation of the ' Origin of Species ' 
is not good for much, because, in the long run, he 
admits that he does not know how organic matter 
began to exist. But if you admit any special 
creation for the first particle of organic matter 
you may just as well admit it for all the rest ; five . 
hundred or five thousand distinct creations are 
just as intelligible, and just as little difficult to 
understand, as one." The answer to these cavils 
is two -fold. In the first place, all human inquiry 
must stop somewhere ; all our knowledge and all 
our investigation cannot take us beyond the limits 
set by the finite and restricted character of our 
faculties, or destroy the endless unknown, which 
accompanies, like its shadow, the endless procession 
of phenomena. So far as I can venture to offer 
an opinion on such a matter, the purpose of our 
being in existence, the highest object that human 
beings can set before themselves, is not the pursuit 
of any such chimera as the annihilation of the 
unknown ; but it is simply the unwearied endeav- 
our to remove its boundaries a little further from 
our little sphere of action. 

I wonder if any historian would for a moment 



450 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

admit the objection, that it is preposterous to 
trouble ourselves about the history of the Roman 
Empire, because we do not know anything positive 
about the origin and first building of the city of 
Rome ! Would it be a fair objection to urge, 
respecting the sublime discoveries of a Newton, or 
a Kepler, those great philosophers, whose dis- 
coveries have been of the profoundest benefit and 
service to all men to say to them " After all 
that you have told us as to how the planets re- 
volve, and how they are maintained in their orbits, 
you cannot tell us what is the cause of the origin 
of the sun, moon, and stars. So what is the use 
of what you have done ? " Yet these objections 
would not be one whit more preposterous than 
the objections which have been made to the 
" Origin of Species." Mr. Darwin, then, had a 
perfect right to limit his inquiry as he pleased, 
and the pnly question for us the inquiry being 
so limited is to ascertain whether the method of 
his inquiry is sound or unsound ; whether he has 
obeyed the canons which must guide and govern 
all investigation, or whether he has broken 
them ; and it was because our inquiry this 
evening is essentially limited to that question, 
that I spent a good deal of time in a former 
lecture (which, perhaps some of you thought 
might have been better employed), in endeavoui 1 - 
irig to illustrate the method and nature of scien- 
tific inquiry in general. We shall now have to 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 451 

put in practice the principles that I then laid 
down. 

I stated to you in substance, if not in words, that 
wherever there are complex masses of phenomena 
to be inquired into, whether they be phenomena 
of the affairs of daily life, or whether they belong 
to the more abstruse and difficult problems laid 
before the philosopher, our course of proceeding 
in unravelling that complex chain of phenomena 
with a view to get at its cause, is always the same ; 
in all cases we must invent an hypothesis; we 
must place before ourselves some more or less 
likely supposition respecting that cause ; and then, 
having assumed an hypothesis, having supposed a 
cause for the phenomena in question, we must 
endeavour, on the one hand, to demonstrate our 
hypothesis, or, on the other, to upset and reject it 
altogether, by testing it in three ways. We imist, 
in the first place, be prepared to prove that the 
supposed causes of the phenomena exist in nature ; 
that they are what the logicians call vera causce 
true causes ; in the next place, we should be pre- 
pared to show that the assumed causes of the 
phenomena are competent to produce such pheno- 
mena as those which we wish to explain by them ; 
and in the last place, we ought to be able to show 
that no other known causes are competent to pro- 
duce these phenomena. If we can succeed in satis- 
fying these three conditions we shall have demon- 
strated our hypothesis ; or rather I ought to say 






452 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

we shall have proved it as far as certainty is pos- 
sible for us ; for, after all, there is no one of our 
surest convictions which may not be upset, or at 
any rate modified by a further accession of know- 
ledge. It was because it satisfied these condi- 
tions that we accepted the hypothesis as to the 
disappearance of the tea-pot and spoons in the 
case I supposed in a previous lecture ; we found 
that our hypothesis on that subject was tenable 
and valid, because the supposed cause existed in 
nature, because it was competent to account for 
the phenomena, and because no other known cause 
was competent to account for them ; and it is upon 
similar grounds that any hypothesis you choose to 
name is accepted in science as tenable and 
valid. 

What is Mr. Darwin's hypothesis ? As I appre- 
hend it for I have put it into a shape more con- 
venient for common purposes than I could find 
verbatim in his book as I apprehend it, I say, 
it is, that all the phenomena of organic nature, 
past and present, result from, or are caused by, 
the inter-action of those properties of organic 
matter, which we have called ATAVISM and VARIA- 
BILITY, with the CONDITIONS OF EXISTENCE, or, 
in other words, given the existence of organic 
matter, its tendency to transmit its properties, and. 
its tendency occasionally to vary ; and, lastly, given 
the conditions of existence by which organic mat- 
ter is surrounded that these put together are the 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 453 

causes of the Present and of the Past conditions of 
ORGANIC NATURE. 

Such is the hypothesis as I understand it. Now 
let us see how it will stand the various tests which 
I laid down just now. In the first place, do these 
supposed causes of the phenomena exist in nature ? 
Is it the fact that, in nature, these properties of 
organic matter atavism and variability and 
those phenomena which we have called the con- 
ditions of existence, is it true that they exist ? 
Well, of course, if they do not exist, all that I have 
told you in the last three or four lectures must be 
incorrect, because I have been attempting to prove 
that they do exist, and I take it that there is 
abundant evidence that they do exist ; so far, 
therefore, the hypothesis does not break down. 

But in the next place comes a much more diffi- 
cult inquiry: Are the causes indicated compe- 
tent to give rise to the phenomena of organic 
nature ? I suspect that this is indubitable to a 
certain extent. It is demonstrable, I think, as I 
have endeavoured to show you, that they are per- 
fectly competent to give rise to all the phenomena 
which are exhibited by RACES in nature. Further- 
more, I believe that they are quite competent to 
account for all that we may call purely structural 
phenomena which are exhibited by SPECIES in 
nature. On that point also I have already en- 
larged somewhat. Again, I think that the causes 
assumed are competent to account for most of the 



454 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

physiological characteristics of species, and I not 
only think that they are competent to account for 
them, but I think that they account for many 
things which otherwise remain wholly unaccount- 
able and inexplicable, and I may say incompre- 
hensible. For a full exposition of the grounds on 
which this conviction is based, I must refer you to 
Mr. Darwin's work ; all that I can do now is to 
illustrate what I have said by two or three cases 
taken almost at random. 

I drew your attention, on a previous evening, to 
the facts which are embodied in our systems of 
Classification, which are the results of the examin- 
ation and comparison of the different members 
of the animal kingdom one with another. I men- 
tioned that the whole of the animal kingdom is 
divisible into five sub-kingdoms ; that each of these 
sub-kingdoms is again divisible into provinces ; 
that each province may be divided into classes, 
and the classes into the successively smaller groups, 
orders, families, genera, and species. 

Now, in each of these groups the resemblance 
in structure among the members of the group is 
closer in proportion as the group is smaller. Thus, 
a man and a worm are members of the animal 
kingdom in virtue of certain apparently slight 
though really fundamental resemblances which 
they present. But a man and a fish are members of 
the same sub-kingdom Vertebrata, because they are 
much more like one another than either of them 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 455 

is to a worm, or a snail, or any member of the other 
sub-kingdoms. For similar reasons men and horses 
are arranged as members of the same Class, Mam- 
malia; men and apes as members of the same 
Order, Primates ; and if there were any animals 
more like men than they were like any of the 
apes, and yet different from men in important and 
constant particulars of their organisation, we should 
rank them as members of the same Family, or of 
the same Genus, but as of distinct Species. 

That it is possible to arrange all the varied 
forms of animals into groups, having this sort of 
singular subordination one to the other, is a very 
remarkable circumstance ; but, as Mr. Darwin re- 
marks, this is a result which is quite to be ex- 
pected, if the principles which he lays down be 
correct. Take the case of the races which are 
known to be produced by the operation of atavism 
and variability, and the conditions of existence 
which check and modify these tendencies. Take 
the case of the pigeons that I brought before you : 
there it was shown that they might be all classed 
as belonging to some one of five principal divi- 
sions, and that within these divisions other sub- 
ordinate groups might be formed. The members 
of these groups are related to one another in just 
the same way as the genera of a family, and the 
groups themselves as the families of an order, or 
the orders of a class ; while all have the same sort 
of structural relations with the wild rock-pigeon, 

58 



456 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

as the members of any great natural group have 
with a real or imaginary typical form. Now, we 
know that all varieties of pigeons of every kind, 
have arisen by a process of selective breeding from 
a common stock, the rock-pigeon ; hence, you see, 
that if all species of animals have proceeded from 
some common stock, the general character of their 
structural relations, and of our systems of classifi- 
cation, which express those relations, would be just 
what we find them to be. In other words, the 
hypothetical cause is, so far, competent to produce 
effects similar to those of the real cause. 

Take, again, another set of very remarkable 
facts, the existence of what are called rudi- 
mentary organs, organs for which we can find 
no obvious use, in the particular animal econ- 
omy in which they are found, and yet which are 
there. 

Such are the splint-like bones in the leg of the 
horse, which I here show you, and which corre- 
spond with bones which belong to certain toes and 
fingers in the human hand and foot. In the horse 
you see they are quite rudimentary, and bear 
neither toes nor fingers ; so that the horse has 
only one "finger' 7 in his fore-foot and one "toe" 
in his hind-foot. But it is a very curious thing 
that the animals closely allied to the horse show 
more toes than he ; as the rhinoceros, for instance : 
he has these extra toes well formed, and anatomi- 
cal facts show very clearly that he is very closely 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 457 

related to the horse indeed. So we may say that 
animals, in an anatomical sense nearly related to 
the horse, have those parts which are rudimentary 
in him fully developed. 

Again, the sheep and the cow have no cutting- 
teeth, but only a hard pad in the upper jaw. That 
is the common characteristic of ruminants in 
general. But the calf has in its upper jaw some 
rudiments of teeth which never are developed, and 
never play the part of teeth at all. Well, if 
you go back in time, you find some of the older, 
now extinct, allies of the ruminants have well- 
developed teeth in their upper jaws ; and at the 
present day the pig (which is in structure closely 
connected with ruminants) has well-developed 
teeth in its upper jaw ; so that here is another 
instance of organs well-developed and very useful, 
in one animal, represented by rudimentary organs, 
for which we can discover no purpose whatsoever 
in another closely allied animal. The whalebone 
whale, again, has horny " whalebone " plates in its 
mouth, and no teeth ; but the young foetal whale 
before it is born has teeth in its jaws; they, how- 
ever, are never used, and they never come to any- 
thing. But other members of the group to which 
the whale belongs have well-developed teeth in 
both jaws. 

Upon any hypothesis of special creation, facts of 
this kind appear to me to be entirely unaccount- 
able and inexplicable, but they cease to be so if 



458 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

you accept Mr. Darwin's hypothesis, and see reason 
for believing that the whalebone whale and the 
whale with teeth in its mouth both sprang from a 
whale that had teeth, and that the teeth of the 
foetal whale are merely remnants recollections, 
if we may so say of the extinct whale. So in 
the case of the horse and the rhinoceros : suppose 
that both have descended by modification from 
some earlier form which had the normal number 
of toes, and the persistence of the rudimentary 
bones which no longer support toes in the horse 
becomes comprehensible. 

In the language that we speak in England, and 
in the language of the Greeks, there are identical 
verbal roots, or elements entering into the com- 
position of words. That fact remains unintellig- 
ible so long as we suppose English and Greek to 
be independently created tongues ; but when it is 
shown that both languages are descended from 
one original, we give an explanation of that 
resemblance. In the same way the existence 
of identical structural roots, if I may so term 
them, entering into the composition of widely 
different animals, is striking evidence in favour of 
the descent of those animals from a common 
original. 

To turn to another kind of illustration : If you 
regard the whole series of stratified rocks that 
enormous thickness of sixty or seventy thousand 
feet that I have mentioned before, constituting the 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 459 

only record we have of a most prodigious lapse of 
time, that time being, in all probability, but a 
fraction of that of which we have no record} if 
you observe in these successive strata of rocks 
successive groups of animals arising and dying 
out, a constant succession, giving you the same 
kind of impression, as you travel from one group 
of strata to another, as you would have in travel- 
ling from one country to another ; when you 
find this constant succession of forms, their 
traces obliterated except to the man of science 
when you look at this wonderful history, and 
ask what it means, it is only a paltering with 
words if you are offered the reply " They were 
so created." 

But if, on the other hand, you look on all 
forms of organised beings as the results of the 
gradual modification of a primitive type, the facts 
receive a meaning, and you see that these older 
conditions are the necessary predecessors of the 
present. Viewed in this light the facts of palae- 
ontology receive a meaning upon any other 
hypothesis I am unable to see, in the slightest 
degree, what knowledge or signification we are 
to draw out of them. Again, note as bearing 
upon the same point, the singular likeness which 
obtains between the successive Faunas and Floras, 
whose remains are preserved on the rocks : you 
never find any great and enormous difference 
between the immediately successive Faunae and 




- 


460 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

Flora, unless you have reason to believe there 
has also been a great lapse of time or a great 
change of conditions. The animals, for instance, 
of the newest tertiary rocks, in any part of the 
world, are always, and without exception, found 
to be closely allied with those which now live in 
that part of the world. For example, in Europe, 
Asia, and Africa, the large mammals are at pres- 
ent rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, elephants, lions, 
tigers, oxen, horses, &c. ; and if you examine the 
newest tertiary deposits, which contain the 
animals and plants which immediately preceded 
those which now exist in the same country, you 
do not find gigantic specimens of ant-eaters and 
kangaroos, but you find rhinoceroses, elephants, 
lions, tigers, &c., of different species to those now 
living but still their close allies. If you turn to 
South America, where, at the present day, we have 
I , great sloths and armadilloes and creatures of that 
kind, what do you find in the newest tertjaxifia.? 
You find the great sloth-like creature, the Mega- 
therium, and the great armadillo, the Glyptcdon, 
and so on. And if you go to Australia you find 
the same law holds good, namely, that that con- 
dition of organic nature which has preceded the 
one which now exists, presents differences perhaps 
of species, and of genera, but that the great types 
of organic structure are the same as those which 
now flourish. 

What meaning has this fact upon any other 

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t\s- )Q ./6^-^VvA.W l^i * \* i~4/ds'Q(,As*\ / ^^ 
}]fj^^JL^^^Ur- 




XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 461 

hypothesis or supposition than one of successive 
modification? But if the population of the 
world, in any age, is the result of the gradual 
modification of the forms which peopled it in the 
preceding age if that has been the case, it is in- 
telligible enough ; because we may expect that 
the creature that results from the modification of 
an elephantine mammal shall be something like 
an elephant, and the creature which is produced 
by the modification of an armadillo-like mammal 
shall be like an armadillo. Upon that supposition, 
I say, the facts are intelligible ; upon any other, 
that I am aware of, they are not. 

So far, the facts of palaeontology are consistent 
with almost any form of the doctrine of progressive JJ., 
modification ; they would not be absolutely incon- /. 
sistent with the wild speculations of De Maillot, 
or with the less objectionable hypothesis of La- ;jV 
marck. But Mr. Darwin's views have one peculiar ivv-fC- 
merit ; and that is, that they are perfectly con- 
sistent with an array of facts which are utterly in- 
consistent with, and fatal to, any other hypothesis 
of progressive modification which has yet been 
advanced. It is one remarkable peculiarity of 
Mr. Darwin's hypothesis that it involves no neces- 
sary progression or incessant modification, and 
that it is perfectly consistent with the persistence 
for any length of time of a given primitive stock, 
contemporaneously with its modifications. To 
return to the case of the domestic breeds of 




\fl 



462 THE CAUSES OF THE XI 

pigeons, for example ; you have the dove-cot 
pigeon, which closely resembles the rock pigeon, 
from which they all started, existing at the same 
time with the others. And if species are developed 
in the same way in nature, a primitive stock and 
its modifications may, occasionally, all find the 
conditions fitted for their existence ; and though 
they come into competition, to a certain extent, 
with one another, the derivative species may not 
necessarily extirpate the primitive one, or vice 
versd. 

Now palaeontology shows us many facts which 
are perfectly harmonious with these observed 
effects of the process by which Mr. Darwin sup- 
poses species to have originated, but which appear 
to me to be totally inconsistent with any other 
hypothesis which has been proposed. There are 
some groups of animals and plants, in the fossil 
world, which have been said to belong to " persist- 
ent types," because they have persisted, with 
very little change indeed, through a very great 
range of time, while everything about them has 
changed largely. There are families of fishes 
whose type of construction has persisted all the 
way from the carboniferous strata right up to the 
cretaceous ; and others which have lasted through 
almost the whole range of the secondary rocks, 
and from the lias to the older tertiaries. It is 
something stupendous this to consider a genus 
lasting without essential modifications through all 

WAM; (wrVL^wt, fl tf^ 






- J KAt, ^^^ 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 463 

this enormous lapse of time while almost every- 
tlm:g else was changed and modified. 

Thus I have no doubt that Mr. Darwin's hypo- 
thesis will be found competent to explain the ma- 
jority of the phenomena exhibited by species in 
nature ; but in an earlier lecture I spoke cautiously 
with respect to its power of explaining all the 
physiological peculiarities of species. 

There is, in fact, one set of these peculiarities 
which the theory of selective modification, as it 
stands at present, is not wholly competent to 
explain, and that is the" group of phenomena which 
I mentioned to you under the name of Hybridism, 
and which I explained to consist in the sterility of 
the offspring of certain species when crossed one 
with another. It matters not one whit whether 
this sterility is universal, or whether it exists only 
in a single case. Every hypothesis is bound to 
explain, or, at any rate, not be inconsistent with, 
the whole of the facts which it professes to account 
for ; and if there is a single one of these facts 
which can be shown to be inconsistent with (I do 
not merely mean inexplicable by, but contrary to) 
the hypothesis, the hypothesis falls to the ground, 
it is worth nothing. One fact with which it is 
positively inconsistent is worth as much, and as 
powerful in negativing the hypothesis, as five 
hundred. If I am right in thus defining the obli- 
gations of an hypothesis, Mr. Darwin, in order to 
place his views beyond the reach of all possible 



464 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

assault, ought to be able to demonstrate the possi- 
bility of developing from a particular stock by se- 
lective breeding, two forms, which should either 
be unable to cross one with another, or whose 
cross-bred offspring should be infertile with one 
another. 

For, you see, if you have not done that you have 
not strictly fulfilled all the conditions of the prob- 
lem ; you have not shown that you can produce, 
by the cause assumed, all the phenomena which 
you have in nature. Here are the phenomena of 
Hybridism staring you in the face, and you cannot 
say, " I can, by selective modification, produce 
these same results." Now, it is admitted on all 
hands that, at present, so far as experiments have 
gone, it has not been found possible to produce 
this complete physiological divergence by selective 
breeding. I stated this very clearly before, and I 
now refer to the point, because, if it could be 
proved, not only that this has not been done, but 
that it cannot be done ; if it could be demonstrated 
that it is impossible to breed selectively, from any 
stock, a form which shall not breed with another, 
produced from the same stock ; and if we were 
shown that this must be the necessary and inevit- 
able results of all experiments, I hold that Mr. 
Darwin's hypothesis would be utterly shattered. 

But has this been done ? or what is really the 
state of the case ? It is simply that, so far as we 
have gone yet with our breeding, we have not pro- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 465 

duced from a common stock two breeds which are 
not more or less fertile with one another. 

I do not know that there is a single fact which 
would justify any one in saying that any degree of 
sterility has been observed between breeds abso- 
lutely known to have been produced by selective 
breeding from a common stock. On the other 
hand, I do not know that there is a single fact 
which can justify any one in asserting that such 
sterility cannot be produced by proper experiment- 
ation. For my own part, I see every reason to 
believe that it may, and will be so produced. For, 
as Mr. Darwin has very properly urged, when we 
consider the phenomena of sterility, we find they 
are most capricious ; we do not know what it is 
that the sterility depends on. There are some 
animals which will not breed in captivity ; whether 
it arises from the simple fact of their being shut 
up and deprived of their liberty, or not, we do not 
know, but they certainly will not breed. What an 
astounding thing this is, to find one of the roost 
important of all functions annihilated by mere 
imprisonment ! 

So, again, there are cases known of animals 
which have been thought by naturalists to be un- 
doubted species, which have yielded perfectly fer- 
tile hybrids ; while there are other species which 
present what everybody believes to be varieties 1 

1 And as I conceive with very good reason ; but if any objec- 
tor urges that we cannot prove that they have been produced by 



466 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

which are more or less infertile with one another. 
There are other cases which are truly extraordi- 
nary ; there is one, for example, which has been 
carefully examined, of two kinds of sea- weed, of 
which the male element of the one, which we may 
call A, fertilises the female element of the other, 
B ; while the male element of B will not fertilise 
the female element of A ; so that, while the for- 
mer experiment seems to show us that they are 
varieties, the latter leads to the conviction that 
they are species. 

When we see how capricious and uncertain this 
sterility is, how unknown the conditions on which 
it depends, I say that we have no right to affirm 
that those conditions will not be better understood 
by and by, and we have no ground for supposing 
that we may not be able to experiment so as to 
obtain that crucial result which I mentioned just 
now. So that though Mr. Darwin's hypothesis 
does not completely extricate us from this difficulty 
at present, we have not the least right to say it 
will not do so. 

There is a wide gulf between the thing you can- 
not explain and the thing that upsets you alto- 
gether. There is hardly any hypothesis in this 
world which has not some fact in connection with 
it which has not been explained, but that is a very 
different affair to a fact that entirely opposes your 

artificial or natural selection, the objection must be admitted 
ultra-sceptical as it is. But in science, scepticism is a duty. 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 467 

hypothesis; hi this case all you can say is, 
that your hypothesis is in the same position as a 
good many others. 

Now, as to the third test, that there are no 
other causes competent to explain the phenomena, 
I explained to you that one should be able to say 
of an hypothesis, that no other known causes than 
those supposed by it are competent to give rise to 
the phenomena. Here, I think, Mr. Darwin's 
view is pretty strong. I really believe that the 
alternative is either Darwinism or nothing, for I 
do not know of any rational conception or theory 
of the organic universe which has any scientific 
position at all beside Mr. Darwin's. I do not 
know of any proposition that has been put before 
us with the intention of explaining the phenomena 
of organic nature, which has in its favour a 
thousandth part of the evidence which may be ad- 
duced in favour of Mr. Darwin's views. Whatever 
may be the objections to his views, certainly all 
other theories are absolutely out of court. 

Take the Lamarckian hypothesis, for example. 
Lamarck was a great naturalist, and to a certain 
extent went the right way to work ; he argued 
from what was undoubtedly a true cause of some 
of the phenomena of organic nature. He said it 
is a matter of experience that an animal may be 
modified more or less in consequence of its desires 
and consequent actions. Thus, if a man exercise 
himself as a blacksmith, his arms will become 



468 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

strong and muscular ; such organic modification is 
a result of this particular action and exercise. 
Lamarck thought that by a very simple supposi- 
tion based on this truth he could explain the origin 
of the various animal species : he said, for ex- 
ample, that the short-legged birds which live on 
fish had been converted into the long-legged 
waders by desiring to get the fish without wetting 
their feathers, and so stretching their legs more 
and more through successive generations. If 
Lamarck could have shown experimentally that 
even races of animals could be produced in this 
way, there might have been some ground for his 
speculations. But he could show nothing of the 
kind, and his hypothesis has pretty well dropped 
into oblivion, as it deserved to do. I said in an 
earlier lecture that there are hypotheses and hy- 
potheses, and when people tell you that Mr. Dar- 
win's strongly-based hypothesis is nothing but a 
mere modification of Lamarck's, you will know 
what to think of their capacity for forming a 
judgment on this subject. 

But you must recollect that when I say I think 
it is either Mr. Darwin's hypothesis or nothing ; 
that either we must take his view, or look upon 
the whole of organic nature as an enigma, the 
meaning of which is wholly hidden from us ; you 
must understand that I mean that I accept it 
provisionally, in exactly the same way as 1 accept 
any other hypothesis. Men of science do not 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 469 

pledge themselves to creeds ; they are bound by 
articles of no sort ; there is not a single belief that 
it is not a bounden duty with them to hold with 
a light hand and to part with cheerfully, the 
moment it is really proved to be contrary to any 
fact, great or small. And if, in course of lime I 
see good reasons for such a proceeding, I shall have 
no hesitation in coming before you, and pointing 
out any change in my opinion without finding the 
slightest occasion to blush for so doing. So I say 
that we accept this view as we accept any other, 
so long as it will help us, and we feel bound to 
retain it only so long as it will serve our great 
purpose the improvement of Man's estate and 
the widening of his knowledge. The moment 
this, or any other conception, ceases to be useful 
for these purposes, away with it to the four winds ; 
we care not what becomes of it ! 

But to say truth, although it has been my busi- 
ness to attend closely to the controversies ro.used 
by the publication of Mr. Darwin's book, T think 
that not one of the enormous mass of objections 
and obstacles which have been raised is of any 
very great value, except that sterilito case which 
I brought before you just now. All the rest are 
misunderstandings of some sort, arising either 
from prejudice, or want of knowledge, or still 
more from want of patience and care in reading 
the work. 

For you must recollect that it is not a book to 



470 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

be read with as much ease as its pleasant style 
may lead you to imagine. You spin through it 
as if it were a novel the first time you read it, and 
think you know all about it ; the second time you 
read it you think you know rather less about it ; 
and the third time, you are amazed to find how 
little you have really apprehended its vast scope 
and objects. I can positively say that I never 
take it up without finding in it some new view, or 
light, or suggestion that I have not noticed before. 
That is the best characteristic of a thorough and 
profound book ; and I believe this feature of the 
" Origin of Species " explains why so many per- 
sons have ventured to pass 'judgment and criti- 
cisms upon it which are by no means worth the 
paper they are written on. 

Before concluding these lectures there is one 
point to which I must advert though, as Mr. 
Darwin has said nothing about man in his book, 
it concerns myself rather than him ; for I have 
strongly maintained on sundry occasions that if 
Mr. Darwin's views are sound, they apply as much 
to man as to the lower mammals, seeing that it is 
perfectly demonstrable that the structural differ- 
ences which separate man from the apes are not 
greater than those which separate some apes 
from others. There cannot be the slightest doubt 
in the world that the argument which applies to 
the improvement of the horse from an earlier 
stock, or of ape from ape, applies to the improve- 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 471 

ment of man from some simpler and lower stock 
than man. There is not a single faculty func- 
tional or structural, moral, intellectual, or instinc- 
tive, there is no faculty whatever that is not 
capable of improvement ; there is no faculty what- 
soever which does not depend upon structure, and 
as structure tends to vary, it is capable of being 
improved. 

Well, I have taken a good deal of pains at 
various times to prove this, and I have endeav- 
oured to meet the objections of those who main- 
tain, that the structural differences between man 
and the lower animals are of so vast a character 
and enormous extent, that even if Mr. Darwin's 
views are correct, you cannot imagine' this par- 
ticular modification to take place. It is, in fact, 
an easy matter to prove that, so far as structure is 
concerned, man differs to no greater extent from 
the animals which are immediately below him 
than these do from other members of the same 
order. Upon the other hand, there is no one who 
estimates more highly than I do the dignity of 
human nature, and the width of the gulf in in- 
tellectual and moral matters which lies between 
man and the whole of the lower creation. 

But I find this very argument brought forward 
vehemently by some. " You say that man has 
proceeded from a modification of some lower 
animal, and you take pains to prove that the 
structural differences which are said to exist in his 

69 



472 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

brain do not exist at all and you teach that all 
functions, intellectual, moral, and others, are the 
expression or the result, in the long run, of struc- 
tures, and of the molecular forces which they 
exert." It is quite true that I do so. 

"Well, but," I am told at once, somewhat 
triumphantly, " you say in the same breath that 
there is a great moral and intellectual chasm 
between man and the lower animals. How is 
this possible when you declare that moral and in- 
tellectual characteristics depend on structure, and 
yet tell us that there is no such gulf between the 
structure of man and that of the lower animals ? " 

I think that objection is based upon a miscon- 
ception of the real relations which exist between 
structure and function, between mechanism and 
work. Function is the expression of molecular 
forces and arrangements no doubt; but, does it 
follow from this, that variation in function so 
depends upon variation in structure that the former 
is always exactly proportioned to the latter ? If 
there is no such relation, if the variation in func- 
tion which follows on a variation in structure may 
be enormously greater than the variation of the 
structure, then, you see, the objection falls to the 
ground. 

Take a couple of watches made by the same 
maker, and as completely alike as possible ; set 
them upon the table, and the function of each 
which is its rate of going will be performed in 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 473 

the same manner, and you shall be able to dis- 
tinguish no difference between them ; but let me 
take a pair of pincers, and if my hand is steadj 
enough to do it, let me just lightly crush together 
the bearings of the balance-wheel, or force to a 
slightly different angle the teeth of the escape- 
ment of one of them, and of course you know the 
immediate result will be that the watch, so treated, 
from that moment will cease to go. But what 
proportion is there between the structural altera- 
tion and the functional result ? Is it not perfectly 
obvious that the alteration is of the minutest kind, 
yet that, slight as it is, it has produced an infinite 
difference in the performance of the functions of 
these two instruments ? 

Well, now, apply that to the present question. 
What is it that constitutes and makes man what 
he is ? What is it but his power of language 
that language giving him the means of recording 
his experience making every generation some- 
what wiser than its predecessor more in accord- 
ance with the established order of the universe ? 

What is it but this power of speech, of record- 
ing experience, which enables men to be men 
looking before and after and, in some dim sense, 
understanding the working of this wondrous uni- 
verse and which distinguishes man from the 
whole of the brute world ? I say that this func- 
tional difference is vast, unfathomable, and truly 
infinite in its consequences ; and I say at the same 



474 THE CAUSES OF THE xi 

time, that it may depend upon structural differ- 
ences which shall be absolutely inappreciable to 
us with our present means of investigation. What 
is this very speech that we are talking about ? I 
am speaking to you at this moment, but if you 
were to alter, in the minutest degree, the propor- 
tion of the nervous forces now active in the two 
nerves which supply the muscles of my glottis, I 
should become suddenly dumb. The voice is pro- 
duced only so long as the vocal chords are parallel ; 
and these are parallel only so long as certain 
muscles contract with exact equality ; and that 
again depends on the equality of action of 
those two nerves I spoke of. So that a change of 
the minutest kind in the structure of one of these 
nerves, or in the structure of the part in which it 
originates, or of the supply of blood to that part, 
or of one of the muscles to which it is distributed, 
might render all of us dumb. But a race of dumb 
men, deprived of all communication with those 
who could speak, would be little indeed removed 
from the brutes. And the moral and intellectual 
difference between them and ourselves would be 
practically infinite, though the naturalist should 
not be able to find a single shadow of even specific 
structural difference. 

But let me dismiss this question now, and, in 
conclusion, let me say that you may go away with 
it as my mature conviction, that Mr. Darwin's 
work is the greatest contribution which has been 



XI PHENOMENA OF ORGANIC NATURE 475 

made to biological science since the publication of 
the " Regne Animal " of Cuvier, and since that 
of the " History of Development," of Von Baer. 
I believe that if you strip it of its theoretical part 
it still remains one of the greatest encyclopedias 
of biological doctrine that any one man ever 
brought forth ; and I believe that, if you take it 
as the embodiment of an hypothesis, it is destined 
to be the guide of biological and psychological 
speculation for the next three or four genera- 
tions. 



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The Origin and Function of Music. 

The Physiology of Laughter. 

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" The Collective Wisdom." 
Political Fetichism. 
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From Freedom to Bondage. 
The Americans. J 
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